Does Proverbs 31 ever feel like an unreachable, unattainable standard?
I struggle with the thought of even being able to achieve one of the verses in this segment of scripture entitled “The Wife of Noble Character”, let alone live up to the culmination of the full passage.
Yet, this is a portion of scripture that I come back to time and time again, with a deep longing in my heart to become a woman of this magnitude.
Lately I have had a narrow focus on Proverbs 31:25 (NIV), “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
If you came to visit me recently you would find me looking a bit like this
Jeans, t-shirt, old college sweatshirt, hair in pig tails, baseball cap attempting to get stuff done on my to-do list, probably trying to clean or organize something. Clothed in dignity? Not so sure there’s much dignified about a Mickey Mouse hat and a USD sweatshirt. If I pulled the nicest attire out of my closet, I would still hesitate to say I would look dignified in it. More like awkwardly out of place.
The days to come feel very ominous and stressful, or perhaps that is just the weight of weather with its heavy gray gloom. The laughter I have is more light and momentary, fleeting fast as the next challenge presents itself.
Attempting to live out this verse can be like running on an endless hamster wheel, exerting effort and attempting to accomplish an end that alludes me, until I am completely exasperated, experience a misstep, tumble a couple times around, and get thrown entirely from the wheel. It all feels more wrapped in insanity than in dignity.
There’s no joy in this, no joy at all, but yet I still want so badly to be a woman clothed strength and dignity who can laugh at the days to come.
It’s often in the exhaustion that I realize whose strength I have been relying on. It is my own limited, feeble, inadequate strength. My head, heart, and soul become downcast followed by a shower of doubt filled thoughts.
As I crumple in my weak and undignified mess, it is God’s love that covers me, reassuring me with this truth
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
I AM with you. I AM your God. I WILL strengthen you. I WILL help you. I WILL uphold you.
No doubts, no conditions, no maybes, no potential let downs. Just the strength of scripture’s truths in the vibrant light of God’s character.
I AM WILL clothe me with strength and dignity. I AM WILL help me to laugh at the days to come.
This is a promise, a beautiful tender promise.
The Lord says to each of us:
When you are exhausted,
I will give you rest that energizes you.
When you are feeble,
I will reveal my resilient fortitude to you.
When you are inadequate,
I will pour my abundance over you.
When you experience a misstep,
I will catch you and correct you.
When the skies are gray and heavy with gloom,
I will show you the vigorous radiance of grace.
When you are dressed in grubby jeans and old sweatshirt,
I will clothe you in strength and dignity.
In my love a joy will well up within you,
and you will laugh at the days to come.
A Lovely Response
What can we say, how can we respond, what can we do with such a gift that the Lord gives to us. I think scripture says it best in Isaiah 61:10 (Message)
“I will sing for joy in God,
explode in praise from deep in my soul!
He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,
he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo
and a bride a jeweled tiara.
For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,
and as a garden cascades with blossoms,
So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom
and puts praise on display before the nations.”
Live it Out
How are you clothed today? Are you sporting strength and dignity, or are you feeling a bit grungy and shabby?
Are there any areas of your life that you are feeling inadequate, feeble, exhausted in?
Are there any heavy gloom or fearful doubts about the days to come?
As you answer these questions today, ask the Lord to reveal the promises He has made as the great I AM for your circumstances.
Write down any scriptures that you come across which reveal the promises the Lord has for you over the next week. Allow Him to clothe you with strength and dignity through those promises.
Pray Through It
When I am feeling like my wardrobe could use an upgrade, please help me to come to You. Help me to stop rummaging through my closet in frustration, trying on everything I own, in every combination imaginable, attempting to clothe myself in strength and dignity.
Lord, dress me in Your promises, mold me into the likeness of Your character. So that no matter if I am in jeans & sweatshirt or formal gown and jewels, that I will be clothed in strength and dignity.
Please help me to respond to Your generosity with joy that rises with volcanic pressure from the depths of my spirit, exploding in praise and thanksgiving to You, God. May my delight be so great in being with You, Lord, that I am able to laugh at the years to come from the security of knowing Jesus as my savior.
In the strong, dignified, and joy filled name of Jesus, amen.