The Bible is full of amazing stories about women. Think of the bravery of Jochebed, the faithfulness of Ruth and the obedience of Mary. As we will see in this blog, the lives of these women were often made up of small acts of obedience that added up to an amazing story, unfolding over generations. Let’s take a deep dive into some of those stories now.
Firstly, we are going to take a look at Sarah. The Lord spoke to Abraham and promised him and Sarah a son, but as she was already past the age of child-bearing, she laughed. God rebuked her in her disbelief, saying “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14).
A year later, when she gave birth to the child, God used the very same thing, her laughter, to name the child, for Isaac means laughter. “Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me”” (Gen. 21:6). Sarah teaches us to take God at His Word, no matter how outlandish the circumstances, and to remember that nothing is too hard for Him.
Jochebed, the mother of Moses, teaches us about bravery. In a time of terrible oppression, when Pharoah decreed that every Hebrew boy baby be thrown into the Nile, she had to put her beloved son in a basket made of reeds and place him on a river, entrusted to God’s care.
“When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.” Exodus 2:3
Jochebed listened to the voice of God, trusted Him to keep her son safe, and as we all know, God spared her son and used him mightily.
Likewise, Jochebed’s daughter Miriam was brave and spoke up when her baby brother was found by Pharoah’s wife: “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” (Ex. 2:7). Her intervention changed the course of history. Have your lips ever burned to speak? Sometimes God places us in situations where we need to speak up. If you feel it, speak it out!
Naomi and Ruth
The story of Naomi and Ruth is one of faithfulness and being moved to act by the power of God. Ruth was faithful to her mother-in-law, even after her husband had died, and followed Naomi back to her homeland. She responded to the kindness of Boaz and with Naomi’s prompting, a new life of blessing took Ruth by surprise: a new husband and a son.
In this way, God used Ruth’s life to change the world. Her son Obed was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David, whose family line led to Jesus, the One who changed everything. So you see, in the prompting of these women, God was quietly shaping the course of history. You can find this story in the book of Ruth. You can read more about the story of Ruth and her new beginning over here.
The story of Hannah’s prayer for a son is a wonderful reminder that God hears our prayers even when we think He has forgotten us. Hannah prayed for years for a son, and then, in the midst of tears and heavy grieving, God gave her what she asked for: “In the course of time, Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him” 1 Samuel 1:20.
Hannah teaches us not to give up on our prayers. If there is something God has laid upon your heart then keep knocking on that door, time and time again. He invites us to do this in Luke 18:7: “And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night?”
Mary, Mother of Jesus
When God called Mary to bear His son, she didn’t think first of the ramifications, of the scandal that would engulf her or her husband to be. She didn’t doubt whether it was actually true, but her first reaction was to say: “I am the Lord’s servant […] may Your Word to me be fulfilled” Luke 1:38.
This was the most important moment in Mary’s life, and she said yes. In her obedience, she was highly honored by God. Is God asking you to say yes to something in your life?
The Woman at the Well
The woman at the well was a social outcast; she was a Samaritan and she was a woman, but Jesus saw her. He had time for her, He spoke to her, He honored her. And through her readiness to believe, she took Him at His word, trusted Him, and believed Him. “He told me everything I ever did” (John 4:39). Through the word of her testimony, many others came to salvation.
Jesus is ready to meet us where we are and to use our lives to tell others about Him. Are we ready to say yes and to take Him at His word?
The Poor Widow
“As Jesus looked up, He saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but out of her poverty, she put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4
As an introvert, I have always secretly worried that if I were in one of the crowds pushing in to meet Jesus, would He have time for me? And this parable tells us that yes, He is mighty, but He also sees what even the widow would have tried to hide in her humility. She would have been embarrassed at how small the offering was, but in the eyes of Jesus, it was more than everyone else gave. This shows us again that how God sees is different from how the world sees. So give Him what you have, no matter how small. He sees.
Mary anointed Jesus’ body after His death and she was the first person to see the resurrected Christ. In terms of leaving behind a believable timeline of events, it could be argued that Jesus picked the wrong person: a woman. At that period in time, a woman’s testimony did not stand up in a court of law. But her love for Jesus meant that she was the first one to see Him after He had conquered death. Wow, that’s some honor.
“He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking He was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).”
So, what can these women in the Bible teach us? Not many of them were leaders because that was the way of the times, but still, God used them where they were, in their everyday. And He can use us too. We won’t all be famous or hugely influential but in our own sphere, where people know us and see how we live out our day-to-day lives, we can make a difference.
And there, with great love and tireless acts of service, faithfully stewarding the gift that God has put within us or doing the job He has called us to, He will use us to change the world. God can use you today. Believe it! And whatever you have to do today, do it with care and take time to listen to the voice of God, because it is in the small things that a whole world can be changed.