For International Women’s Day this year, we’re remembering and honouring brave women in the Bible.
These are ladies who sought God in humility and faith even when things were difficult.
So, here are 5 heroines in the Bible, and what we can learn from their lives.
Many may recognise her from sitting at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38-42) or being Jesus’ first witness after His resurrection (John 20:11-18).
As one of His most devoted followers, Mary Magdalene was the one who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume by pouring it over His head (Mark 14:3-9).
Estimates vary, but her flask of pure nard was worth an incredible amount.
If you saw someone pour the entire bottle of a $2,500 Chanel perfume onto someone else’s head, you would probably react the same way the disciples did: you would comment on the waste, and critique the one who had done such a thing.
Mary was rebuked by others. Yet where others saw wastage, she saw surpassing worth. Where others felt there were better things to use it for, Mary understood that it was the least that Jesus deserved.
And Jesus affirmed her for her faith.
Perhaps the pure nard or perfume isn’t something we can quite relate to. In that case, how about thinking in terms of our money, time and effort?
When others pity us for “spending too much time in church” or complain about “giving too much to God”, are we shaken by that?
Or do we still recognise that God is far more worthy than anything money can buy or the world can offer?
Mary demonstrated her understanding of Jesus’ immense worth by kneeling before Him in humble adoration.
Her gesture illustrates Matthew 6:21 and challenges our faith – do we also see the surpassing worth of our God?
Deborah was anointed by God to be a prophetess and judge, at a time when men were the ones commonly anointed.
She was an unlikely hero as a woman in those days, yet she embodied obedience and trust in God who used her faithfulness to deliver Israel in battle.
Judges 4-5 recount the incredible deliverance of Israel from their enemies under Deborah’s direction.
The Israelites, having been oppressed for 20 years, felt defeated and fearful at the prospect of war. Yet, with Deborah’s courageous leadership, the Israelites were led to victory!
Deborah was called out of her comfort zone to lead an entire country to victory and she listened, regardless of any fear or doubt she may have harboured.
Trusting in God’s sovereignty and wisdom, she obeyed God – and He used an ordinary woman like her to do something extraordinary.
When we look at ourselves, we may think of ourselves as very little.
Perhaps we feel inadequate, unable to contribute anything to God’s Kingdom. However, the truth is that God does not call upon the qualified – He qualifies those whom He calls.
There’s a verse in Jesus I Come by Awaken Generation goes like this:
If you’re drawing me closer
If you’re lifting me higher
If you’re bringing me into greater purpose
May I not refuse
The next time we are called by God to step up for His Kingdom, remember that in our weaknesses, God’s power is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Okay, God. I’ll try. That’s all God requires. He used Deborah, and He can use you too!
We know from Joshua 2 that Rahab was a harlot who hid two Israelite spies and saved their lives.
Interestingly, the spies had been sent to take over Jericho, her homeland, so she was essentially betraying her country.
Should she have been caught, she would probably have been executed. Yet, she put her life on the line because of her faith in God.
Rahab is like some of us in the sense that she had never witnessed any of God’s miracles, but had only heard of them.
Nevertheless, she made an admirable declaration of faith (Joshua 2:8-14). Despite being a Gentile, she chose to trust in the God of Israel and protect those whom He had sent.
In faith, she chose God over a sinful life and a sinful culture.
Rahab’s faith in God is something many of us – even the Israelites who walked through the parted Red Sea – lack.
In the face of trials, we may find ourselves forsaking what honours God in order to “protect” ourselves.
We have been called to live by faith. If we believe that God is good (Mark 10:18), our actions must mirror our faith. Then, surrendering our lives to serve and obey God will be our natural response.
In Ruth’s life, we see God’s providence and sovereignty wonderfully shown through her story.
As a Gentile widow, she took a great risk by following Naomi back to Israel and leaving her family and culture behind.
Ruth was loyal and bold, traits which blessed her in her relationship with Naomi and helped her to earn Boaz’s favour.
Ultimately, God used Ruth’s faithful obedience to redeem both Naomi and herself by blessing them with a new family.
In life, we may hesitate to take a leap of faith in following God.
What if He doesn’t meet my needs? What if He doesn’t answer my prayer?
However, when we truly trust that God is Jehovah Jireh (our Provider), our worries will not stand in the way of our surrender.
Ruth’s decision to follow Naomi to Israel was like stepping into the deep, wide ocean with her eyes closed. She knew nothing about the road ahead, but she believed in God who was with them.
God knows our needs better than we do, and He longs to provide for us (Matthew 6:25-34). Such a truth frees us from fretting and helps us surrender wholly to God whom we know works for our good and His glory!
Esther is yet another woman who honoured God with her bravery and faith.
In the face of persecution, Esther rose up to her calling to save the Jews from death, even at the risk of her life.
When the royal decree was made for all the Jews in the land to be destroyed (Esther 3:12-15), Esther was put in a difficult spot.
As she was in a position of great authority, she could approach the king and potentially save the Jews – but doing so meant taking on the risk of being executed.
Nonetheless, Mordecai helped Esther realise that she may have been made queen “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), and she sought God despite feeling great fear.
She fasted and prayed (Esther 4:16), relying on God to empower her and give her the strength and courage she needed to face the king.
From her, then came the well-known line: “And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16b).
Esther’s bravery reminds us that God is fighting our battles.
Where He has called us, He will not leave us alone. We may struggle so severely that we want to give up, thinking that we cannot do it – but God never meant for us to fight our battles on our own!
The first verse of God I Look to You by Bethel Music goes like this:
God, I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God, I look to You, You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do
This song reminds us that God is our strength, shield and rock – we can look to Him because He fights for us!
Following God is not easy. But these godly women have shown us what unwavering faith in God looks like: even when it was tough, they chose to trust God.
Their lives have shown us how God is worthy. He empowers us, provides for us and gives us strength to face the day.
These heroines have given their lives to serving and obeying God.
May they inspire us to do the same!
- Which examples from these five women stood out to you? Why?
- Where in your life could you use greater faith or boldness?
- Take a moment today to ask God for that.