Matt and I are living through one of those beautiful seasons of our young married life together: we are going on vacation next week, we are about to move into a brand new home, and we are due to bring home Baby Girl #2 in about a month.
Problem: our house closing date keeps getting pushed back and is currently scheduled for the middle of our week at the beach, our temporary townhome has a refrigerator currently taking up occupancy in the living room, and I’ve been having lots of those pesky Braxton-Hicks contractions. Oh. And today at the grocery store I got up to the register to pay, realized that my new, unactivated debit card was still at home on the counter, and had to leave my cart full of bagged groceries at Publix with the extremely sympathetic cashier. Throw in some pregnancy hormones and a fussy toddler, and you’ve got a party.
I’m struggling, folks, to stay positive and trust in the Lord. I know He’s got this, and that the mortgage loan paperwork mix-up was not a surprise to God (though it came as a huge, unwelcome surprise to me). I keep thinking about that lady in the Bible…the one all of us Christian women strive to live up to…the ethereal, resourceful wife and businesswoman…the envied and beloved…the one and only…Proverbs 31 woman. I can’t stop dwelling on that verse, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come” (Prov. 31:25).
First of all, my clothing is currently covered in goldfish saliva juice. I’ll let you ponder a moment what you think that might be…and I haven’t even showered yet. I feel very weak, and excruciatingly undignified. The exact opposite of this description of a virtuous woman. Where can I get some strength and dignity y’all?
And then, what I truly don’t understand is…
Why is she laughing? I’m not. I’m sitting here in the middle of a sea of moving boxes watching The Holiday (praying that an early dose of Christmas spirit will cheer me up) and trying not to tear up. Seriously, the last thing on my list of things to do today is “laugh at the time to come.” The “time to come” sounds uncertain and scary. The “time to come” might include an early baby and a way too-short version of a much-needed family beach trip. The “time to come” could include any number of situations that I can’t control. I’m not digging it.
I keep asking God to give me grace and trust…but secretly I am enjoying my little pity party. There’s a reason for the song lyric, It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Part of me does not want to accept the inevitable- I want to do what Nora does when she is deprived of something she wants: I want to sit on the floor and cry and scream and kick my legs and yell until I get it. Not exactly the image of the righteous woman we glimpse in Proverbs…Thankfully, God is a gracious, patient Father who uses His Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts and teach us when we are wrong.
Just as I pop Nora on the hand and tell her “no,” God has chastised me with His Word for the millionth time. That living, breathing, double-edged sword has reminded me once more: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), “…the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10), “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…” (Isaiah 41:10).
And let’s be real honest here. I am very, truly, extremely aware that I am complaining about good gifts given to me in what I feel is less-than-perfect timing: the beach, a house, a baby. But Paul says that he boasts in his weaknesses to reflect the power of God, so I am going to continue boasting in how insufficient, weak, and ungrateful I am.
Last Sunday, Matt preached his first sermon in “big church,” and he taught on 2 Corinthians 4:7-18, which begins, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” The treasure Paul is talking about is the glory of Christ. The Potter has reminded me that I am a jar of clay; I am fragile and easily broken, but I carry something of eternal worth.
You know what? The Proverbs 31 woman is a jar of clay, too. She laughs at the time to come because her joy and contentment is not in her housing situation, her family, her business, her energy level, etc. Her joy is in the Lord. Therefore, when she cracks under pressure- the light and love of our Jesus shines through and she laughs and rejoices.
My prayer for myself today is that I will laugh at and delight in the future…because Jesus is my future. He is the “time to come.” Every other thing in life is uncertain, but Jesus. He has saved me forever, sealed my righteousness, and made victory mine. Though my life may be chaotic for a few weeks, it is full of joy. May God give me eyes that see that Truth. I’m not laughing yet, but hopefully soon.
I was reading some prayers from Valley of Vision the other day, and I stumbled across this prayer that I will leave you with:
“There is none all good as thou art:
With thee I can live without other things,
for thou art God all-sufficient,
and the glory, peace, rest, joy of the world is a creaturely, perishing thing in comparison with thee.”