The Strength of the “Weaker Vessel”

I pray that this blog helps you to find your strength in Christ.

This weekend, our church had been blessed with the opportunity to have a women’s conference, where 650 women came to listen to a famous female Christian speaker share God’s Word with us.  God opened my eyes to the women volunteering all over the building before and during the event, promoting the event via social media and our church bulletin, contacting vendors and food suppliers, wisely discerning how to properly spend the church money, and herding hundreds of women around the church, all with smiles on their faces.

In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter describes women as “the weaker vessel.”  In a society where women are worthless unless they can do the same things that men can, we don’t like to read this in the Bible.  In the context in which it was written, there is a general consensus that Peter was referring to women being physically weaker than men.  I have no problem admitting this, as my husband can simply put his arm around me to prevent me from moving.  To go slightly off-topic, I wanted to point out that Peter mentions this phrase to demonstrate that men should respect us as the weaker vessels, instead of using their strengths to abuse us (so he’s basically saying that domestic violence and physical abuse is a sin, and that men who do this are completely at fault).

However, I write this blog to shine a light on the women in my life that, although the Bible describes them as “the weaker vessel,” are strong in their own way.  They may not have the same roles as men in their households, in churches, or in society, but they have a different type of strength that does not go unnoticed.

When I look at the women in my church, in addition to the hundreds of women who serve and mentor in a wide variety of ministries (including the wonderful women I work with in the church office!), I see four women who support the men who pastor our church.  Each of our four pastors has spoken from the platform or has taught a class that I have attended, and each pastor has mentioned the value of his wife and what she does for him (as well as for the church).  God holds teachers of His Word at a high standard (see James 3), so pastors need people to hold them accountable.  Our pastors can attest that their wives have spoken the truth in love to them, and have warned them against making mistakes that they would regret.  The pastors’ wives pay attention to detail; they have the patience to do paperwork, prepare the behind-the-scene efforts for events, and handle the stresses of caring for a big church without breaking their character.   In addition to dealing with their everyday lives (whether it’s homeschooling children or helping relatives that live in various states), these women also offer friendship to women in our church.  The pastors’ wives are always willing to help their families and to the church, and they do it all with the joy of the Lord as their strength.

I’m also blessed to have such powerful women in my family.  My mother has used her strength to take care of me and my sister as a single mom, not only providing financially for us, but also mentally and emotionally.  I’d always lived in a clean house that she’d worked tirelessly to maintain.  She has done a great job of encouraging me in my writing, helping my sister in her career path, and being a source of guidance and care to the young women in her life who have had traumatic experiences.  My mother-in-law has used her strength to give excessively.  Between bringing food to her family while they are at work, to offering advice to those around her, she is always willing to give whatever she can whenever she can.  Plus, she raised my husband, and that’s kind of a big deal!  My “stepmom” has used her strength to raise my older brothers and sisters, and she has blessed me by treating me as her own daughter.  She is a lovely grandma to my nieces and nephews, and she makes every effort to share God’s blessings with everyone she meets.

My older sisters (including my sister-in-law) have used their strength to take care of the next generation and raise intelligent, respectable children.  In a society where most parents are absent or negligent, it is such a blessing to see mothers who are truly invested in their children.  My younger sister has used her strength to support her boyfriend, and to help her friends and family hold it all together.  Whenever I’m struggling, I know I can turn to her for a listening ear and for encouragement; I know most of her friends can say the same.  I’m so proud of how mature she has become.

My friends all use their strengths to multitask the innumerable events that they have in their schedules.  Whether they are married with two kids and a dog, they are trying to get pregnant, they are house hunting, they are planning weddings, they are wrestling with their feelings in a season of singleness, or they are involved in various ministries, they possess power that allows them to do it all without going absolutely insane.

Although women are not created to do everything, the women in my life do everything that they do well.  My life would not be the same without these women encouraging me and sharing with me the blessings that they have received from God.

It is time for us women to celebrate our strengths instead of focusing on our weaknesses.  We are not less valuable than men because we do not have the strength that they possess.  We are not more valuable than men because we can supposedly do everything.  We hold a different kind of value because we have a strength that men do not possess.  We have been created by God to give life, not just with our bodies (as that time of the month always reminds us!) but also with our words, our presence, and our actions.  

God has used the encouragement that I’ve received from my family, friends, and women at church to revive my dead, weary soul.   I cannot tell you how many times I’ve felt peace by simply having a woman stand by my side during the moments when I’ve been the most broken.  Their generosity has broken down the walls of my heart and allowed me to receive without fear of rejection and disappointment.  Truly, every strength that the women I know possess, is life-giving.

What life-giving gifts do you possess, and how will you use them to reveal God’s strength in you?

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