Sarah was childless nearly all her life, married to a wanderer who talked to God, and forever frozen in old age by her story in Scripture. She was first promised a child by her husband (who said he heard it from God), but decades dragged on with no baby. She wanted a child so badly she felt compelled to devise a plan. Her husband was happy to oblige; it meant having sex with the servant girl. Years later, random visitors confirmed her promised child would be a reality soon. Sarah laughed. “After all I’ve been through. That’s rich.” Sarah was called to wait. It wasn’t easy.
Ruth watched her father-in-law, brother-in-law, and husband die. Her only remaining family member told her to find somewhere else to live. She crossed a border as an immigrant. She worked hard for poor people’s wages. She risked her reputation and life to follow a series of strange customs. She married a much older man from the foreign country she had to beg to live in. Ruth was called to adapt. It wasn’t easy.
Esther was a prisoner of war in a nation with a faction of virulently antisemitic people. She went through months of rigorous rituals. The favor of God put her in a position where she lived in constant danger of doing or saying the wrong thing, forfeiting her title or life. Esther was called to stand in the gap. She was called to save the people of God from annihilation; preserve prophecy and the bloodline of the Messiah. It wasn’t easy.
Hannah was childless, married to a man with another wife, and falsely accused by a religious leader. She was so desperate for a baby she made a life-altering vow. She gave up her child at three years old, into the care of the “holy man” who called her a drunk. Hannah was called to let go. It wasn’t easy.
Bathsheba was preyed upon by a person in authority asking for sexual favors, while married to a husband who valued his job, his friends, his reputation more than he loved her. She became a widow through the subterfuge and deceit of the desperate, unscrupulous leader, faced an unplanned, adulterous pregnancy, and was culturally mandated to marry a conniving liar and murderer. The pregnancy that triggered the dismantling of her life ended when the baby died within a few days of being born. She had to fight for position and for her next child to inherit his destiny. Bathsheba was called to persevere. It wasn’t easy.
Do you know a woman of a marginalized, hated people group, who had been divorced five times and was living with a man when the Lord called her? The unnamed “woman-at-the-well” carried the gospel and changed her nation. She was called by God to evangelize. It wasn’t easy; she had a reputation to contend with. But joy propelled her.
Do you know a woman with a constant, gynecological, money-draining, sex-prohibiting disease who is following Jesus, hoping for a miracle? There was such a woman in the Bible, only named by her disease. She was called by God to hope. It wasn’t easy. But the overflow of her hope still gives hope.
What have you faced? How hard is your life right now? What are you called to do? If you think your circumstances disqualify you, remember these women. There are more stories like theirs. Being called by God is not easy. Soldier on. Joy and hope will sustain you.
–Article by Marsha Robinson