“So may all your enemies perish, O LORD. But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.” – Judges 5:31
National Women’s History Month has been celebrated in March since 1987 and the theme for this year’s observance is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” It is so appropriate that our country honors our women just as we honor our men. In the words of the late great poet Maya Angelou, “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”
Women are largely responsible for the advances and progress our country has made from its inception. Dr. Teresa L. Fry Brown, professor of homiletics (preaching) at Emory University, presents some of the attributes of the women ancestors of America: “Backbone, courage, durability, energy, fortitude, nerve, stability, tenacity, and vitality.” Dr. Fry Brown also describes her maternal grandmother, “Mama Tessie,” as a woman who lived above negative social and political circumstances while “lovingly creating large dinners out of meager resources, cleaning someone else’s house, greeting the world from her own front porch, praising God from the choir stand every Sunday at the Baptist church, to shopping at stores where we couldn’t try things on.”
These words could be repeated by almost every black family member in America when speaking about the exploits and experiences of strong black women who did the work of laying foundations of faith and hard work for generations to follow. That was their public service.
Many women of darker hue are now and have been prominent in public service and in government. But what has been accomplished by contemporary women is built upon the work of women of antiquity, even our Bible she-roes.
God has always delighted in using women to make a difference in this world. Creation was not complete until He made Eve. Even when God sought to reestablish creation through the powerful resurrection of Jesus Christ, He used women to announce this great event to the world. When the disciples appear in scripture to be scared, depressed, and ready to give up all hope, God sent two women with the soul reviving message, “We have seen the Lord, and He is risen from the dead.”
One amazing woman mentioned in Judges of the Hebrew Scriptures was Deborah. There was a need for bold leadership in her country, and God chose her for public service. God did not choose her because she was a female; he called her because she was the right person for the job. There were probably others around who were more physically strong, more intellectually astute, and more politically connected, but Deborah was the right person for the job. As a woman she was able to perform in a non-traditional role and still maintain traditional values. As a wife she received advice, love, and encouragement from her companion. This woman was also wise, as she discerned the mind and purpose of God and declared it to the people. When people were doing what was right in their own eyes, she was a judge in Israel. And as a judge she operated under a palm tree to fairly rule and translate the revelation of God.
This wise woman was also a warrior. With a song of praise on her lips, and with the sword of the Lord in her hand, she was a soldier and soundly defeated an army that was five times greater in number than the Israelites.
Judge Deborah was also a wonderful writer. She did not only rouse, rule, and reign, but she wrote a song to the Lord magnifying Him as being the One who enabled Israel to conquer their country’s foes.
Yes, we celebrate Deborah, and all the women of more recent history for their contributions in public service and government. And we pray…
Most gracious and loving GOD, in whose Word we find our guidance, and in whose love we find our healing and joy; rule over our spirits in this month as we celebrate women in public service. We proudly acknowledge and humbly appreciate these women who have throughout our country’s history been the backbone of our strength. Now, fill us with the solemnity of the faith of the great commission, but also provide us with the means and the will to stay in loving and joyous relationships with one another and the world. Lord, we praise and adore You, and thank You for the joy we have in worshiping you in spirit and in truth.
In the name of JESUS, our potent and preeminent Savior, we pray and say, AMEN