Women are a fascinating study. Last week, while riding the city train in London, I sat opposite a lady covered in black. Even her hands were gloved. The only exposed part of her body were her eyes. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to ask her about her life – childhood, career, marriage and family, traditions, hopes and dreams. What lay in the heart and mind of this sister behind the black veil?
In Eastern Europe I see women clothed in black, too. These are senior villagers – stooped, wrinkled, and worn.
In Communist days no one wanted to draw attention to themselves, and these women behave the same way today, avoiding eye contact with others when walking down the street. What atrocities have they endured? And how do they survive on a daily basis when they have next to nothing to eat and often no electricity or indoor plumbing? In stark contrast, young women in the same countries are attending college and preparing for a career. Wearing skin-tight jeans or flowing skirts and stylish high heels, they strut down cobblestone streets while chatting on their cell phones.
Scripture talks about a woman named Sheerah. We don’t know what she looked like, but we know what she did. “Ephraim had a daughter named Sheerah. She built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-horon and Uzzen-sheerah” (1 Chronicles 7:24). I’m in the back of a van riding through Hungary as I write this, so I don’t have study materials at my fingertips to explore this more. However, based on what we know about the culture of that day, Sheerah must have been an extraordinary woman, a leader, a motivator. She had a vision and knew how to fulfill it. She was a team player, able to work with others to accomplish a purpose. What a gal! I wonder how others accepted her and her giftedness. No doubt some followed her leadership; others probably tsk-tsked and criticized her efforts and passion.
Yes, women make for an interesting study. Some are ruled by fear and anxiety. Others rise to seize challenges before them. Some are overcomers – they have to be because they live in abuse or poverty worse than anyone can imagine. Some are creative geniuses. Others are gifted teachers, administrators, caregivers, nurturers, behind-the-scenes servants, artisans.
The differences are many, but they all share one common factor: God loves them and has gifted them to fulfill His purpose for their lives. How exciting is that? May we rise to the call even if means swimming upstream sometimes. And may we be faithful to help those younger, those coming behind us to do the same.