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Strong, Brave, Smart: Stand-Out Women in the Bible

After graduating from university with a degree in English, I couldn’t find a job. At that time, no one was hiring, so you took what you could get. I worked in retail at a pewter gift store for three years.

I hated retail with a passion. But I loved the women I worked with. Over those three years, I worked both in Ottawa and Toronto. We moved to Toronto for my husband’s schooling.

After months of looking for a job, I went to work for the same people I worked for in Ottawa, who were opening a store at the Eaton Centre.

At this store, I worked with a woman who did not share my faith.  We respected each other’s opinions and got along really well.  We had some awesome talks.  It seemed an odd pairing.

I remember one conversation in particular about women in the bible. She had always thought the women portrayed were weak. Pathetic. I told her about a few of the very strong women mentioned in scripture. I can’t remember now who I spoke of, but I hope I mentioned Deborah, Esther, Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ mother, Mary. To name just a few.

I know I didn’t mention all these great women, because at twenty-something, I didn’t know my bible all that well. But I said enough to get her to start to rethink some of what she had heard.

The fact is, the bible is full of the histories of strong, brave, intelligent women. Deborah, a judge and warrior in a time when women just didn’t do that sort of thing. Esther put her life on the line, to save her fellow Jews. Many women went into ministry in the New Testament even though persecution or death was a very real possibility. They worked closely with Paul and others in the NT church. And those women who released their husbands to be disciples, leaving behind an income, stability and a lot more, well they deserve a medal. (I might be a tad biased concerning them.)

I’ve been reading a book, called Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman about a young girl who wanted to be a knight.

Of course in the 1200’s women were not allowed to do anything but get married, raise a family and do handy crafts. Play board games. (I’m sorry but the whole game thing would have done me in, right there.) These are not bad things. Except the board games. But this character wanted something different. Something that the establishment wouldn’t give her. She wanted adventure, the outdoors, a sword and a good horse, maybe the right partner to share it all with. She didn’t fit the mould.

I can totally relate. Can you?

For those of us who don’t fit the mould or march to a different beat, it can be difficult. People don’t always get it or get you. That’s okay. I think God uses us misfits too. In His economy everything is worthwhile and important. There is nothing wasted. Both those who fit the mould and those who don’t, are valuable to Him, His plan and His kingdom. That’s the beauty of who God is. Just because you feel like you don’t fit, doesn’t mean that you aren’t smart, brave or beautiful. Can we just be clear on that point?  It also doesn’t disqualify you from being a stand-out for God.

What makes these woman in the bible, stand-outs? Here are a few things that I think make them unforgettable.

  1. They are not afraid of being afraid. I believe most were scared out of their wits. It’s only human. I had a list of Not afraid to do…..but really? I think they were afraid. They just didn’t let it stop them. They didn’t have super powers but they believed in a Divine Super Power. They could be brave because of Him.
  2. They were vulnerable. Which is scary in and of itself. They let down their shields of self-protection and opened themselves up to new ideas, and maybe a new future.
  3. They tried. Even if it met with failure, they at least gave it a shot. That’s more than a lot of us do. Getting up the nerve to even try something new and different is hard. It’s takes a lot of bravery.
  4. Actions not words. They said what they needed to and then acted.
  5. They believed in something bigger than themselves. A plan. A God who ruled with love, justice and mercy. It wasn’t about them.

Many women in the bible and the ones who have come after, were strong and brave. Warriors within their own rights. Some were misfits who God used to fit in spots that seemed impossible. Some were made to fit perfectly. The thing is, God used all of them. He uses all of us. To play our unique roles right where we are. To be smart. To be brave. To be strong. To use our gifts. To further His Kingdom, right here. Right now.

If you want to learn more about women who were strong, brave and smart, then I suggest you study Deborah in Judges 4 and Esther in the book named after her. Then move on to other women and see how God used them mightily.