I know that we women who suffer from chronic illness and pain often fret because we want with all our hearts to be like the Proverbs 31 woman. Yet no matter how hard we try, we feel we cannot be like her. We then either give up completely, or sink into a deep depression… Sometimes we are far too hard on ourselves, even demanding more of ourselves than God does. After all, He understands us- He knows our frame and remembers we are but dust.
Another thing that we tend to do is to take man’s standard of being a good wife, mother and homemaker and we, on finding we cannot keep up with our healthier Sisters, wilt under the strain. This is a shame because Jesus says to come to Him all who are weary and He will give us rest. His yoke is light. But the perfectionism of man isn’t. Wouldn’t it be sad for us to constantly feel false guilt because we can’t keep up our homes like Martha Stewart? But here is some good news: we may very well find out after looking into the scriptures that we are closer to being a Proverbs 31 woman than we think….
Firstly, we must remember that the Word of God is the first and last authority in our lives. What exactly does God say about the godly woman? In Proverbs 31:10-31 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies… Is your heart yearning to be a virtuous woman? Are you seeking to serve God despite your pain? If you are, then your price is far above rubies!
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil… Do you seek to be a blessing to your husband? Can he trust you with his heart, his dreams and fears, raising his children and keeping his home to the best of your ability? Then your husband will be blessed for you already have his trust. That too is a truly precious thing!
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life… Do you try to be a help meet for him? Are you consistently thinking the best of him, serving him in love and trying to be as unselfish as you can be, even in your worst times of illness or pain? If so, you are emulating that seemingly elusive Proverbs 31 woman!
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands… When you are feeling reasonably well, do you try to do something creative that will benefit your family? Do you work willingly even though it hurts? Willingness is a matter of heart, not productivity. If you work willingly no matter how small the job, you have the spirit of the Proverbs 31 woman!
She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar... This one can be a toughie, especially with illness at its height. But I also believe that the ill woman who seeks out coupons and directs those who are able to help with the purchasing of groceries to shop at the cheapest but best for money supermarkets, is living this verse to the best of her ability. She is like the merchant’s ships- charting their course from her bed or buying her food online!
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens… Again, a seeming impossibility for the chronically ill woman. But again the spirit of the Proverbs 31 woman is seen in not in the early rising per se but in the planning of the godly woman as she directs her helpers in conducting the running of the home. She or someone else must have a plan of action and I take that as giving meat and portions to her maidens.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard… There is nothing to stop an ill woman having a say in business matters or running a home business from her sick bed if at all possible. She may not be able to plant a vineyard with her own hands but the spirit of this wonderful woman of God can be seen in the planning, thought and effort in being business savvy, and this is her toil. She is still emulating her!
She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms… This is a tough one for those of us with chronic illness and pain. But again I see us being that woman of God in taking care of our bodies, managing our illness, seeking knowledge from medical professionals or naturopaths and making sure we do precisely what we are told to do. That includes getting rest and trying to cast our cares on the LORD so as to strengthen ourselves!
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night... As we survey our efforts in managing our home and family, we will see that we have done well- for it is so much harder than for those of able body. We need our rest but our candle not going out at night means that we are diligent in the overseeing of our home and our eyes are ever vigilant to see just what goes on around us- even when we are taking our rest!
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff…Whenever possible, we seek to be as diligent as possible keeping watch over our household, our children and our husband. We work as much as is humanly possible but we do not fret if we cannot honestly cope with work at any particular time. Again, I see this as a matter of heart. … The godly woman who suffers from chronic illness and pain but who seeks to serve the LORD despite her pain- is more like the Proverbs 31 woman than she could ever imagine….
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy... Kindness and compassion is a matter of heart and the heart of the giver is one of compassion. I see no reason why the chronically ill woman cannot extend her hands to the needy in special offerings or acts of kindness.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet...Again, the chronically ill woman can take comfort in knowing her family is well clothed. It is relatively easy to shop by catalogue or online through ebay. Planning and diligence in being observant to your family’s needs and sizes will pay off in knowing that they are warm and well-presented.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple…Again, this making of tapestries etc would depend on how severe the sufferer’s illness and pain was, but I feel that the essence of this verse is that we can still take a pride in our appearance in spite of our illness. I know sometimes this can be one of the last things on our minds, but I think it is important to ourselves and our husbands to try to keep tidy.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land…A husband who is well-loved will usually be willing to learn how to iron his shirt in times of his wife’s illness’s flare. If not, there are laundries that press shirts. A husband of a godly woman will never be known for an untidy and unkempt appearance. It is just harder for us as we have to be super diligent. If we can’t help our men retain honour by being well-presented, we should seek out helpers who will either volunteer or help for a small fee.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant… Again, this is often difficult for the ill woman to achieve but I believe the spirit of the Proverbs 31 woman is shown in the extra planning and eye for detail in watching over her family and household. As we know, everything is more difficult and the ill woman will be ever seeking to cut corners in order to have her home run well.
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come...The chronically ill woman works harder than most for she starts her day at a disadvantage- usually lack of sleep due to pain. She has medications to take that can have disastrous side-effects such as making her sleep when she needs to be awake or nausea. But she works diligently as best she can to keep the home fires burning and the family happy. She is often the most selfless of women! She will be able to take pleasure in times to come, knowing that she did her best before God, to be His woman! She is a woman who should be honoured above all others, in life and in the one to come!
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness...I believe the godly chronically ill woman who reads the Word and keeps close to the LORD will open her mouth with wisdom, she will speak with kindness despite feeling unwell, for the LORD Himself will strengthen her spiritually.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness... Even though the chronically ill Christian woman may be bedridden, she can still look well to the ways of her household. By being attentive and delegating responsibilities wherever possible, she will never eat the bread of idleness. Being bedridden does not necessarily mean that one is idle. Indeed, running a home from your sick bed is a feat that surpasses the strength and vigilance of healthier stronger women!
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her… As children grow and your husband sees your efforts and realises the sacrifices that you have made- and the extra pain it has caused to ensure their upbringing is well done and that they are all comfortable and well looked after, they will bless and praise you. You are such a blessing to them!
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all, favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the LORD she shall be praised.… Indeed, many women will have done virtuously, but you have put it in harder than most- you surely you do excel them all! When many would just crumble, you have kept striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman.
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates...You see, you will have the fruit of hands and your own works will praise you in the gates- because despite all obstacles, you have run the race and won- for you really *are* a Proverbs 31 woman!