Fear and Anxiety. I know these demons well. I don’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t fought them. Some days they lie in the recesses of my mind and heart but never truly rear their ugly heads. And, some days they threaten to take over and seek to blackmail me into spiritual, emotional, and physical silence. I am encouraged to know that I am not alone in this journey. Rarely a week passes where I do not counsel, pray, or battle with a woman who is seeking to find freedom from fear and anxiety. Women are sinking under the weight of these struggles, and they desperately need someone to come alongside them and walk with them through the darkness. Chances are either you or someone you know struggles with anxiety.
Please, let me give you some good news, there is hope. God desires that we walk a road characterized by peace and freedom, not a road filled with fear and anxiety. Therefore, He’s given us examples of women who have learned how to gain freedom over these demons.
Today I want us to look at one of those women—the Proverbs 31 woman. What made her life different?
She puts on strength. She draws on her strength and reveals that her arms are strong (Prov. 31:17). One of the ways this verse is translated is, “she wraps strength around her like a belt.” I love this imagery. I can see her getting up every day, spending time with the Lord, and then putting on the strength He gives her. Several years ago, during one of the worst moments of my struggle, God reminded me of a very hard truth. Ladies, God delights to give us His strength, peace, hope, and confidence, but He will not force us to take it. That is our job. So many times we cry out to the Lord and wait before Him, but we don’t go the extra step in receiving what He gives us. Notice that this woman doesn’t just pray and hope for strength; she actually takes the strength God gives her, wraps it around her, and then prepares herself for action.
Are you—like me—guilty of asking but not taking? Or, do you purposefully put on the strength that God so willingly gives us? My prayer is that we will be women who cloth ourselves with strength, instead of allowing the enemy to intimidate us with fear.
Next, she prepares for the future. She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her female servants. She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings. . . . She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all in her household are doubly clothed (Prov. 31:15-16, 21). If we are honest, many of us are fearful of the future. It hangs out there as this big unknown, and we aren’t sure what will happen or if we will make it. Look how this woman handled the unknown—she prepared for it.
My husband is a college pastor, so we’ve just graduated several seniors from our ministry. Nearly all of them admitted a fear of what was to come. For a year they have known graduation was coming, but as the day approached, so did their anxiety. The Proverbs 31 woman new that winter (difficult times) would come. She didn’t know how long it would last, but she knew it would come. So, she prepared for it. She got up every day and provided food for household and then made sure they had enough clothing for when the winter came. Ladies, difficult seasons are coming. It is in these moments that trusting God to take care of us is the proper response (Matt. 6:25-34). Just like her, we must put on the strength He gives us, we must also do what God asks us and prepare for the future. Are you preparing for the future? If so, do you trust that God will take care of you?
Finally, she protects her heart with laughter. Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come (Prov. 31:25). In this verse, we see her response to her preparation. The Proverbs 31 woman is so confident of the future and in her God that she literally mocks the time to come. Ladies, be encouraged that we carry Someone with us into the future that can drive away any obstacles, any fear, any confusion, and anything that dares get in the way of God’s plans for us. This should give us great confidence and joy. But—once again—it goes back to trust. We must be faithful to ask God to move in our situation, believe that He will do it, and then surround ourselves with joyful people who will help us “laugh at the time to come.” When we are struggling, it is tempting to be around people who will wallow with us in self-pity. (After all, misery loves company.) But, that is not the biblical response. I want to encourage you to find people who will remind you to be joyful and to laugh. These last eighteen months have been very difficult for me and my husband. Do you want to know how we are surviving and actually thriving? We have surrounded ourselves with people who have the gift of encouragement and the gift of laughter. They don’t ignore our struggle, but they help us see God in the midst of our struggle.
Do you have people in your life who remind you laugh and find joy in what God has done and is doing? If not, then I encourage you to ask God to bring that person into your life.
Ladies, God wants to use us in the future to be great warriors for Him, but we must let go of our fear and anxiety and walk in His strength and freedom. Be encouraged, dear sister, I am praying for you today!