By Holly Wagner
In 1991, eight scientists lived for two years in an artificial environment in Oracle, Arizona, called Biosphere 2. (How they did that without a Starbucks is beyond me!)
Inside the three-acre closed system was a small ocean, a rainforest, a desert, and a savannah grassland. The scientists produced every kind of weather pattern except wind.
Eventually the lack of wind caused the tree trunks to grow weak and bend over. It is the pressure of wind that strengthens tree trunks and allows them to hold up their own weight.
Like it or not, our strength comes when we weather storms. Ugh!
So as much as I hate challenges, I think we need them. Proverbs 31 tells us why. At first glance that chapter in the Bible sounds a bit annoying. While not necessarily a job description, many of the verses paint the picture of this seemingly perfect woman. Who could live up to her?
Often she is called the “virtuous woman,” which sounds like someone who is quiet and does a lot of knitting. (No offense, if you are a knitter.) I am not really good at either of those.
I would have been happy for Proverbs to end with chapter 30. Really. However, about 20 years ago, I began the journey of discovering just who a daughter of the King is designed to be, and I had an inkling that understanding Proverbs 31 was going to be essential—not only to my faith but also to help me figure out how to handle challenges that come my way.
As I studied, I learned that the word virtuous is the Hebrew word chayil and has to do with might, strength, and valor. It actually means a “force on the earth.”
Wow. We are designed to be a force on the earth. I like that.
At first I was rather put off by Proverbs 31:15, the verse that challenges us to rise “while it is yet night.” What? I don’t think so. I sleep while it is yet night. The truth is, however, that verse has less to do with the time of day we get up and everything to do with being women who rise up when challenge and chaos and heartbreak and calamity abound. In the darkest hour, she rises.
And on a more personal level, perhaps your world is shaking. Maybe cancer has struck your family, or a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, or perhaps divorce has torn apart your home.
At times it seems, if for no other reason than the size of the global population, that there has never been more pain, more disease, more famine, and more heartbreak on the planet than now, and yet God has trusted you and me with this moment in history!
We are to be a force for good on the earth. Chayil. When everything around us is in the midst of chaos, when our own world is quaking, we are to be the she who rises.
She does not wilt; she does not complain; she does not blame. She rises. She actually grows stronger in the midst of dark times when it seems as if the whole world is trembling. God is looking for a company of women who will rise in the midst of any and every challenge—and then be a force for good to help others find their brave.
Throughout the Bible, we read about women who rose out of a dark situation to bring strength. In the dark days of disorder and confusion during the time of the Judges, when Israel vacillated in its worship of God, a woman named Deborah rose like a mother in Israel. God used her to lead the Israelites to freedom. She found her brave, and she rose to the challenge.
In a terrifying moment, when her people were threatened with genocide, Queen Esther risked her own life to rescue them, and a nation of people was saved.
Esther found her brave in dark times and rose to the challenge.
We do not have to remain stuck in our trials! We grow through them, and as daughters of the King, we can rise in the midst of dark, shaking moments.
Holly Wagner and her husband, Philip, are the pastors of Oasis Church in Los Angeles. As an author and women’s ministry leader (She Rises, a.k.a. GodChicks)—and as a guest speaker at the 2019 Love Life Women’s Conference—Holly works to empower women all over the world. This article is an adaptation from her book, Find Your Brave.