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Women Who Win

The Jolly Woman

A girl is jolly. A bride is jolly. When she grows into womanhood the pressures of life depress her. Two children are enough to sap her energy and time. But the Bible relates joy to every season of a woman’s life. Let’s see some of them.

1. The Jolly Mother

Joy and mother sound paradoxical ! But the Bible says, “God grants the barren woman a home like a joyful mother of children” (Psa 113:9). Joy and motherhood go together.

Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth were all barren. They were unhappy without children. When they cried to God, He heard their prayers and granted them children. It is the Lord who gives conception (Ruth 4:13). Childless couples don’t  need to despair. Our God is a miracle-working God. However, you need not wait indefinitely. You can adopt a few children. (Even couples with children can adopt orphans, sal vaged infants, abused children or others in foster homes and give them a future.) There are more children with- out parents than couples without children. It is a ministry of compassion. God commands the barren to sing for joy because her children would be more. She would expand and her descendants would inherit the nations (Isa 54:1-3). Mordecai adopted his niece and she became the saviour of a nation. In Isaiah 54 we read, “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord” (v 17). Yes, adopting children is a service to God.

A mother may rejoice at the birth of chil- dren. But how can she continue to be a joyful mother ? Unless a mother is fully convinced that bringing up children is God’s will for her life she will tend to be depressed. I was talk- ing to a mother of two children trying for a job. She had left the children with a maid and they had suffered. So she was looking for a better maid. I suggested she stayed back at home atleast for a few years and care for the children. But she said she wanted to do some- thing worthwhile! Many of us women have a gnawing feeling that we are wasting our time, doing something worthless, sitting at home with the children. No wonder we are unhappy.

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth” (Psa 127:4). The arrow reaches its target not by the arrow’s might but by the strength and aim of the shooting hand. It is the mother’s job to nurture the children, pray for them, identify their gifts and guide them into the unknown future. What an important assignment ! If a mother fulfills this responsibility, her sons shall be “as plants grown up in their youth” and daughters “as pillars sculptured in palace style” (Psa 144:12). What can be the greatest joy but to hear that our children walk in trut h ? (3 Jn 4; Prov 23: 24,25) .

Of all the Hebrew mothers in Egypt only one was joyful—Jochebed. No doubt she would have scolded the mothers for throwing their sons into the crocodile-infested Nile. They would have laughed at her idea to hide the baby or throw him
‘safely’ in a waterproof basket. They could not believe anything could save their precious sons from the wide-mouthed crocodiles. Then it was Jochebed’s turn. She hid her son as all laughed her to scorn. She made the basket tighter and tighter to hold back the swirling waters. Then painted it. She did not throw it in the gushing torrents but gently laid it amidst the reeds. She did her best and God did the rest—the happiest mother in Egypt!

What do we mothers do ? We can’t believe anything can keep our children safe in this


crocodile-infested world and simply throw them there. If we can believe that our godly up- bringing can keep the world out,and do our best — will not God do the rest ? Is our God so unfaithful? We mothers fail in our duty. We want God to
shoulder the entire responsi- bility and keep our children safe in this worldly world. Jochebed aimed her arrow right.

2. The Jolly Wife

“Live joyfully with the wife whom you love... for that is your portion in life” (Eccl 9:9).

The joyful wife is one whose husband can live joyfully with her, who is loveable and understands that the joy she gives her husband is his portion in life and the reward for his sloggings. The main duty of a wife is not just to please herself but be pleasing to her hus- band (1 Cor 7:34). Cooking, dressing up, sex, outings are all things of the world, but she doesn’t deny him the joy of such mundane things. She even takes utmost care in these areas of life. She expresses her love and re- sponds to his as in the Song of Solomon.

One lady asked me how she could please her husband. I told her to ask the question to her husband. Each couple is unique. There are no set rules to please a man. Every wife must some time or other ask her man when he is in a hilarious mood where she fails to please him and what she can do to please him more. She must assure him to take his answer in the right spirit and improve herself. Wives of unbeliev- ing husbands are not a special category. The Bible has no separate code for them.

They have to be pleasing to their husbands as much as the other wives (1 Pet 3:1,2).

A wife wants to know how she can be pleasing to a husband who is in love with another woman. You are not helping your husband by being quiet about his problem. Confront him gently and ask where you have failed to please him. Be understanding and help him come out of his addiction. If that fails, instead of going from preacher to preacher for prayer and tarnishing his image, go to a trusted senior couple for counseling. The book, Love Must Be Tough by Dr. James Dobson will help you and your friends in such problems.

Another wife wails that she loves her hus- band and he loves her. But in-law problems rob them of the joy. Mothers-in-law should understand their children and let them lead a jolly life. Let them have their separate time and room. God gave us a model joint family in Noah's ark. For a year they had to live under one roof. When they came out they were given the rainbow of God’s covenant. Living together is tough but teaches us very many spiritual lessons. In difficult situations let God alone be your judge (Mic 7:6,7).

3. The Jolly Housewife

“Strength and honour are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come” (Prov 31:25). How could that woman, after doing all the household chores and taking care of the chil- dren, instead of sighing in her bed at night, rejoice ? It was because she had the deep con- viction that she was doing the will of God. She knew that cooking and housekeeping were ways of serving a holy God. God expects us to serve Him with joy and gladness (Dt 28:47). Whatever our hands find to do we must do it with joy in our soul and a song in our mouth. I wanted to cook something special for the kids of our host while staying with a family. The host said, “Don’t do it. Over the years I have managed to kill their tastebuds. Don’t revive them.” Eating is not a duty. It is a pleasure and it is the housewife’s duty to make the dishes salivatingly attractive. “He... filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). Cook with sensitivity and love (Acts 16:34). When Peter was hungry he dreamt of delicacies!

How did the virtuous woman do all these lightheartedly ? She was not just a housewife;

she was a working woman. Surprised ? See Proverbs 31:16-19. She was studious and gen- erating extra income for the household. With the dwindling number of children and modern gadgets to hasten household chores, no woman needs to be lazy at home. If she has plenty of time at her hands she must invest it wisely. Clearly her priority was home and then the outside. Her children were not neglected.

We received a letter from a teenager : “Please publish my letter. I read your article, Forever Deprived ? As the daughter of working parents I was able to identify with the feelings ex- pressed therein. The vacuum that’s inside me is invisible to all.

Six-thirty I come home, open the door and walk into an empty house. Do I deserve to feel so lonely? Even if my parents read this, I bet they’ll never know it's their daughter. Parents, teenage years are the most vulnerable. We need you most at those times. Sadly, that's when we miss you more. Your child will cry a little if you can’t afford the new shoes he wants. But he'll cry all his life if you can’t afford to be his parent. How- ever little the father’s pay, we can live with it. But we kids can’t live without a mom and a dad, when we need them.”

How do we put these pieces together ? A housewife should not be bound by time. She should be able to schedule her own time so that she can do her outdoor activities without neglecting her kids or husband. A career woman should have an open talk with her husband and children. “Can I continue to work ?” should not be the querry. Let them express freely. If you are a career woman you must be sure you are doing God‡s will. Your priorities can keep changing and you should not be scared to change. I did M.B.B.S. and then D.C.H. and I was sure I did God’s will. When my daughter was six months old I joined the Government Service. Then after nine months I resigned with my husband’s approval, as my daughter was affected. I don’t regret that decision even today. Then I practised being at home. Today I don’t practise but I am fully convinced that I am still doing God’s will. Seek God’s mind and be fully convinced that whatever you are doing, you are in God’s will.

4. The Jolly Widow

Tragedy can strike a woman any time of her life by snatching her husband away. Jesus saw a widow and had compassion on her and said, “Do not weep” (Lk 7:13). This is His typical reaction to every widow. He under- stands a widow’s heartache and cares for her. He is a “defender of widows” (Psa 68:5). “He will establish the boundary of the widow” (Prov 15:25). Isaiah 54 is an encouragement to widows which admonishes her, “Enlarge the place of your tent...for you shall expand ... and your descendants will inherit the nations... you will not remember the reproach of your wid- owhood anymore.” Though the Bible speaks of the many sorrows of the widows, it paves the path for her to lead a jolly life.

A widow can find joy in serving the Lord. Concerning the widows, Paul says, “It is good for them if they remain even as I am... she is happier if she remains as she is according to my judgment— and I think I also have the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 7:8,40). Anna became a widow before she was thirty and lived nearly half a century without a husband. She chose to serve the Lord fulltime and found joy in God’s work (Lk 2:36-38). For practical reasons all cannot remarry.

However, young widows (less than sixty, 1 Tim 5:9) are strongly admonished by Paul to marry again. Writing to Timothy he says, “There- fore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no op- portunity to the adversary to speak reproach- fully. For some have already turned aside after Satan” (1 Tim 5:14,15). The conjunction “There- fore” carries heavy meaning. We must take the Bible seriously. A single woman is vulnerable and can fall in various temptations. Marriage is a safeguard for her. That’s the way to shut the devil’s mouth. Even in the Old Testament this held good. When Naomi suggested marriage, Ruth did not deny her need. The problem with Indian widows is that they refuse to face their need. Widows must face their need honestly and accept help. We don't need to tryto be “holier” than God.

Others have a great responsibility to make widows happy. We must help them remarry. Indian society is hostile here at times. Fami- lies, friends and even pastors condemn a widow when she wants to marry. Let’s have the spirit and understanding of Naomi.

She did not say, “See, how I am. Why can’t you be like me?” But she brought a proposal for her. In India it’s hard for a widow to find a life partner. Others must help her get settled. “God sets the solitary in families” (Psa 68:6). The world considers widows as emotionally dead. Job proves them wrong. He demonstrated how a widow’s heart is capable of singing with joy by helping her fatherless children and ren- dering financial help to the needy ones (Job
29:13; 31:16).

5. The Jolly Grandma

There is good reason to rejoice in growing old. The strength and beauty of youth is physical. But that of old age is spiritual. If we grow beautiful and strong inwardly with age there is no need to be terrified of ageing. But if not, we'll have nothing in old age. As a woman grows gradually she releases her chil- dren and experiences the painful joy of letting go. Like the roots of a banyan tree they take root, grow and become independent fruit-bear- ing trees. More numbers are added to the family. Sons-in-law and daughters-in-law sur- round her. She dandles grandchildren on her knees. It is upto a woman to enjoy her expand- ing family or make life miserable for herself and everyone else. Women testified beauti- fully about Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close rela- tive, and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter- in-law who loves you, who is better to you took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbour women gave him a name saying: There is a son born to Naomi (Ruth 4:14-17). Autumn’s children! Sunrise at dusk ! Restoration of life when we are ready to die!

Wise grandmothers weave joy out of any situation. Mara became Merrilyne because she was a loveable lady who captured the heart of her son-in-law and daughter-in-law alias daughter ! “Children’s children are the crown of old men” (Prov 17:6).

Child-rearing is parents’ duty. It is better for grandparents not to interfere in that area when they have parents. Instead of criticising their dress and habits, gentle guid- ance makes friends of them. Help them, teach them their lessons and Bible and take them out. Then you'll be a jolly grandma !

Dear lady, you may be doing 101 things in life. But be sure that you are doing the will of God. “In that day” you may plead showing your certificates and accomplishments. But if you have done the will of God, you will be the
jolliest woman on that day ! ˆ



   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com