Author Archives: marilynnchadwick

Her Children Rise Up

A woman of valor, who can find?…Her children rise up and call her blessed (Proverbs 31:10, 28 JPS).

The Proverbs 31 “woman of valor” must have been something of a warrior. After all, the Hebrew term chayil, translated “valor,” is a military term. When I asked my husband how he saw me as a fighter he didn’t hesitate.  “You have fought hard for our children’s dreams,” he said.

It’s true. I’ve fought harder to help our kids reach their dreams than I ever fought for my own. Not that I didn’t love setting goals and working hard to reach my dreams. I still do. But this quote says it best: “Reaching your own dreams is fulfilling—helping someone else reach their dreams is sublime.” And when that “someone else” happens to be your own children, it’s joy on steroids.

I wonder if the Proverbs 31 woman (Proverbs 31:10-31 JPS) discovered this same joy in seeing her children reach their dreams? We’re told, “Her children rise up and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28 ESV). The Hebrew word translated “rise up” is very strong. It means, “to accomplish, to endure, to build or establish, to strengthen, to succeed.”

I’d like to think her children were now grown, happy, and fulfilled. They had reached their dreams, in part, because of their mother’s impact. She had taught them. Nurtured, clothed, and cared for them. Modeled a life of giving to the poor. She displayed joy, faithfulness, and laughter. Perhaps they saw their mom in prayer, seeking the Lord and fighting for their dreams.

Nothing makes me happier than when my children “rise up” and succeed.  If the Proverbs 31 woman of valor poured life into her children, then I can imagine her exhilaration as she watched them flourish.

To love our own children, and other children who are like our own, calls for self-sacrifice. But we may just discover that loving others more than we love ourselves can be oddly liberating.  Makes us less self-centered. Sometimes, that’s the best kind of freedom of all.

Adapted from: Marilynn Chadwick, Woman of Valor: Discovering the Courage and Strength God Gave You (Eugene: Harvest House, 2017).


Mighty Man of Valor

Valor comes in all kinds of packages. Perhaps you or someone you love is in the military—bravely guarding our freedom. Or maybe you’re a first responder. Or a caregiver holding the hands of the dying. You might be quietly and faithfully caring for your children—raising up the next generation. Or nursing your spouse through a long illness. People show courage in different ways.

Perhaps you don’t feel strong enough or brave enough to do what’s required of you. If so, you’re in good company. Some of God’s most courageous men and women started their journey in weakness. But God’s power transformed them into mighty men and women of valor.

Take Gideon. He was the youngest son in a family and tribe that were the weakest in Israel. The people had fallen into great evil, so the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. “But Israel grew weak and cried out to the Lord” (Judges 6:11 CEB).

So the Lord sent His angel to Gideon with a message: “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). To which Gideon said something like, “Who me? I’m just a frightened nobody.” “Mighty man of valor” was a term that described warriors. Heroes. Champions.  Not a scared young man from the weakest tribe in a beaten down nation. The word translated “valor” is chayil, the very same word that describes the “woman of valor” in Proverbs 31.

God must have seen something special in Gideon and said to him: “You have strength, so go and rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not personally sending you?” The Lord promised, “Because I’m with you, you’ll defeat the Midianites as if they were just one person” (Judges 6:14-16 CEB).  And that’s just what happened. It took some persuading, but Gideon took courageous action to save his nation. He became a new man in the process. A man sold out to God. A mighty man of valor.

Friend, God sees within you the strength and courage He put there—even if you’re anxious and full of fear. Even if your family is a mess. He loves us when we’re weak; but He delights in making us strong. Men and women of valor.

We may feel exhausted, rejected, ignored, or afraid.  If so, His words to us are His words to Gideon: “Because I am with you, you will defeat your enemies. Enemies like job loss, depression, anxiety, marriage problems, a rebellious child, the inability to have a child, or loneliness. Maybe you struggle with fear like Gideon did.

God is whispering to you right at this moment: “The Lord is with you mighty warrior, man or woman of valor. And because I am with you, you will have strength to prevail!”


Love Makes Her Brave

I agree with Indiana Jones: “I hate snakes!’ Or maybe I don’t actually hate them…I’m just terrified.   A few days ago, our son ran in the house to tell me he found a young copperhead while cleaning out our garage. My first thought was “Yikes!” My next was, “Go get him!”

Like any good soldier, I ran toward the danger. I went after that snake with a vengeance and sent him into the next life. Why? Because he was in my garage…near my kitchen door…a threat to my home and family! Even though I’m scared of snakes, my love for my family made me brave.

Maybe you can relate. Is there a time when you did something that scared you to protect someone you loved? You were showing valor.

I’m captivated by the Hebrew word chayil, translated “valor,” used to describe the Proverbs 31 woman. Who can find a woman of valor? (Proverbs 31:10 OJB). God created woman to be a nurturer. But He also made her brave.

Simply put, valor is personal bravery in the face of danger, especially in battle. In its nearly 100 uses in the Old Testament, the word for “valor,” chayil depicts warriors, like King David’s “mighty men.” Other times, chayil describes God as a warrior for His people. It’s the same word for heaven’s angel armies.

I find woman of valor both compelling and poetic. My 30-something daughter, a young wife and mother, likes this expression because it makes her think of courage and strength. Valor is courage. But the woman of valor also embodies honor, strength of character, virtue, and so much more.

I believe we need to become women of valor as we face our own battles today. Unlike the woman of Proverbs 31, we enjoy breakthroughs in medicine, science, and travel. But consider some of the enemies we face in our world: Addiction, divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, unemployment, pornography, human trafficking, joblessness, homelessness, racism. Plus, it seems almost daily, we’re bombarded by news of random terror attacks somewhere in the world. If this isn’t war, my friend, I don’t know what is.

The woman of valor is essentially a warrior, a “fighter” at heart. She fights not only for her personal world, but also for the world around her. As I listen to conversations with women of all ages, stages, and walks of life, I’m hearing a recurring theme—their heart’s desire to be strong for their families and communities. In short, they long to be courageous women God can use to change the world. Is God calling you to become a woman of valor? Remember, it’s love that makes you brave.

Adapted from: 

Marilynn Chadwick, Woman of Valor: Discovering the Courage and Strength God Gave You (Eugene: Harvest House, 2017).


Woman of Valor: A Fierce Fighter

I still marvel when I think back to the beautiful young mother I once met in a tiny country in a forgotten corner of the world. She was a survivor of the horrific genocide in Burundi that had exploded alongside Rwanda’s frenzy of killings.

I’d been invited to teach a group of women—church leaders and pastors’ wives—on prayer. All had survived war and poverty and were trying to help rebuild their country. They were no strangers to prayer.  Several told stirring accounts of God’s miraculous power during times of great danger.

Finally, the young mother hesitantly rose to her feet and began to tell her story. She had eight children and lived in the countryside. One day she was gathering vegetables when a worker rushed to tell her that her two-year-old son had suddenly fallen ill and died.

“Desperate and afraid, I remembered the story of how Elijah had prayed for the widow’s little boy who died,” she said. “The boy finally came back to life.” So I cried out to God, “You did it for Elijah—do it for me!” She prayed and prayed. “Finally,” she said quietly, “I could not look at my son any longer, so I went outside.” She paused—faltering for words.

By this point, I’m thinking of how to comfort her. But I was not prepared for what happened next.

“I went back inside,” she continued slowly. “But this time, when I put my hands on my little boy’s lifeless body and began to pray, he suddenly coughed and sputtered and sat up—he was alive!” A hush fell over the room. I was face-to-face with an ordinary mother who lived oceans away from me. But I knew I was in the presence of a warrior—a woman of valor.

Maybe you’re thinking, Perhaps her little boy wasn’t really dead. Or, Why God didn’t heal my sick child? A story like this raises many questions for which I don’t have answers. But I do know this: God cares for his children all over the world. And in a place like Burundi—where they have tasted death up close and where doctors are nearly nonexistent—believers experience a dimension of God’s grace I seldom see in my safe, suburban world. I’ve heard similar stories firsthand from war refugees in the Middle East and slum dwellers in India.

Such women remind me that faith is a fierce fight. A far cry from the woman in my corner of the world who once said to me: “Oh, I prayed hard a couple of times for something I really wanted and it didn’t happen. Guess I won’t ever try that again.”

I walked away from my encounter with the young mother from Burundi in awe, but also challenged. I realize God doesn’t always heal or deliver or raise someone from the dead. But I was inspired by the way she fought for the life of her child. She was courageous. Persistent.  And she encouraged me to keep on fighting the fight of faith, even when things look desperate—and never to be too quick to give up on God.

Adapted from:  Marilynn Chadwick, Woman of Valor: Discovering the Courage and Strength God Gave You (Eugene: Harvest House, 2017).

 


What is a Woman of Valor?

Who can find a woman of valor? (Proverbs 31:10 Orthodox Jewish Bible)

I believe most women, deep down inside, long to be world-changers. Most of us can point to strong women who shaped our life and left their imprint on our character, our hopes, and our dreams.

The Bible has a beautiful term to describe this kind of woman. She’s called a “woman of valor.”  She is a nurturer. But she’s also a warrior. A “fighter” at heart. She fights not only for her personal world and those she loves, but also for the world around her.  I was surprised to learn that in Hebrew, the famed Proverbs 31 “virtuous woman” is better translated “woman of valor” I quickly became captivated by this strong depiction of biblical womanhood.

That’s why I wrote Woman of Valor.  I just had to tell the stories of strong and courageous women I’ve met in nearly forty years of marriage, mothering, and ministry. There’s  Anya (not her real name) who was raised as a member of the untouchable caste in India. Anya was set free by the life giving news of the gospel.  She eventually went to college and even earned her PhD.  Anya now works with Mission India bringing hope to other women. Or Barbara, who started a vibrant church in the very neighborhood where her husband had been killed in a drive-by shooting.

My African friends truly understand the woman of valor. They have a beautiful way of referring to all women as “mothers” whether they have children or not—married or single. They believe mothers can change the world. Thus, they believe “to educate a girl is to educate a nation.”

Over the next several weeks, I’ll share stories and teachings from the newly released Woman of Valor.  I’ll introduce you to some of my heroes. What are their secrets of strength and stories of joy? How are they making a difference in their homes, communities, and world?

Women today are losing wars we should be winning. Families are hurting. Children lack direction. Marriages have a 50% fail rate. Communities grow more fragile by the day. Our culture groans. Who is this woman of valor and what can we learn from her? Surely we’ve never needed her more than now.