In Your Patience, Possess Ye Your Souls
“(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:38).
— Todd Alexander
There is a song in the heart of every woman of God. It is the song of trust and faith. Her song guides her into knowledge, understanding, and discernment as she seeks Him. She walks differently than others, and by her example, she is a beacon of light.
Her trust in God is shown by her patience. In turn, her patience develops the strength and consistency of her character. For these faithful women of the Bible, patience was their unseen source of strength. It fortified them against their doubts, fears, and insecurities as they labored to trust God for all things.
Esther (Esther 1‑7)
With great patience, Queen Esther saved her people from a holocaust that the wicked Haman conceived. Queen Esther’s Uncle Mordecai gave her the wise counsel that perhaps God had positioned her as queen to save her people. As only a teenager, it is hard to imagine the gravity of her situation and the weight of responsibility before her. How could she possibly succeed against such a powerful enemy?
Esther first risked her life by going before the king without his invitation. Fortunately, her appearance pleased him, and he asked her what she desired. He was willing to grant her up to half his Kingdom. She could have panicked and revealed her entire case before the king. But Esther waited patiently.
She answered the king by inviting him and Haman to luxurious banquets. She surely felt the support of Mordecai’s prayer and fasting and was likely strengthened to follow her uncle’s example of faith, hope, and trust in God. However, to any outside observer, this patient waiting on God may have seemed odd since Haman’s plans to murder her people were moving forward without delay. Nonetheless, Esther waited on God to create the right opportunity to save her people.
God rewarded Esther’s patient faith by causing King Ahasuerus a sleepless night. God then impressed upon the King’s heart the desire to open the record of recent events in his kingdom. The portion the king turned to happened to record a time when Mordecai revealed a plot against the life of Ahasuerus. After recalling the incident, the king desired to honor Mordecai. This occurred just a day before Haman had planned to accuse Mordecai before the king. This miraculous timing undoubtedly strengthened Esther’s faith and her resolve to continue.
Through Esther’s patient waiting, she witnessed a remarkable reversal of favor; Mordecai was honored while Haman was put to death in the very gallows he had constructed for Mordecai. As a result, Esther’s people were saved from certain destruction.
In the end, her strategy worked. Queen Esther waited patiently upon God to reveal the truth of Haman’s wicked plot to King Ahasuerus. By adhering to righteous principles while she patiently sought God’s will, she allowed herself to be used by God to save her people, despite her young and inexperienced position before the king.
Anna the Prophetess (Luke 2:36‑38)
Good intentions do not necessarily lead to good outcomes. But doing the right thing for the right reason is the best recipe for pleasing God. This describes the faithful life of Anna the Prophetess, mentioned by Luke in just three verses. These events were most likely told to Jesus from the memory of his mother, Mary.
Anna, the Prophetess, chose to live in the Temple, patiently waiting for the Messiah whom she believed would provide salvation to the world. She demonstrated her faith with fasting and prayer night and day, for many years, and into her old age.
It was no coincidence, then, that she was there on the day when Joseph and Mary brought their beautiful baby boy to the Temple. Anna heard the Prophet Simeon bless the baby, Jesus. She heard him proclaim that this baby would fulfill her hopes and dreams as the Messiah: a “light to lighten the Gentiles” and the “glory of thy people Israel.” On that day, God rewarded Anna’s patience and faith at that moment.
Anna teaches us that patience is perhaps the most effective tool for those who yearn to be included in the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).
Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Patience is a resilient faith and an abiding hope in God’s timing. Patience overcomes the hopelessness of despair and the deceit of the valley of the shadow of death. Patience strengthens the mind of every faithful woman of God and is accompanied by a confidence that settles deep within her heart.
For Mary, her patience was a daily surrender to God and His unprecedented work in her life. While she had the assurances of the mighty angel Gabriel, Mary still had to live daily with the social reality of her unwed pregnancy. How would she and Joseph sustain the daily verbal assaults of her family and friends, or of prying strangers? What opportunities would be lost to Joseph because of this magnificent event? How would they make ends meet?
Great patience would be required. Patience that would allow God to do His work by helping the couple overcome all the difficulties looming before them.
About the time that her pregnancy would be showing, Mary made the arduous trip on the back of a mule to see her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s baby, who would become John the Baptist, immediately leaped inside Elizabeth’s womb when Mary spoke. Perhaps this was a subtle confirmation from God for Mary’s faithful patience thus far.
Following this moment of joy, Mary offered the sacrifice of praise to her heavenly Father in front of Elizabeth (Luke 1:46‑55). In her beautiful soliloquy, Mary shows us a higher context for our faith, a clarity of focus, and a fresh zeal for our patience. She shows us that we, too, should be in hopeful expectation of the magnificent work that God is doing in us every day, for we are His New Creation.
The outline of Mary’s sacrifice of praise is a pattern for our own: ● Unconditional praise for God (verse 46). ● Strengthened in her spirit (verse 47). ● Humility and trust in her selection for this honor (verse 48). ● God’s mercy is given to those who revere Him (verse 50). ● God executes His plan of salvation in the face of man’s pride (verse 51). ● God fills all who hunger and thirst for righteousness (verse 53). ● God shows mercy to His people (verse 54). ● Implicit trust in the Abrahamic Promise (verse 55).
Mary’s patience would also need great faith to bear up under the additional words of Simeon’s prophecy: “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also” (Luke 2:35). Her joy would someday be turned to great sorrow as she witnessed the inhumane treatment of her son.
Jochebed (Exodus 2:1‑10)
Pharaoh was an intractable enemy with great power over the captive Hebrews. Jochebed lived during the time when Pharaoh ordered the death of all Hebrew newborn boys. But she trusted in the power of the living God and found a way to save her son by putting him in God’s care.
There was no turning back for faithful Jochebed. Instead of throwing the boy into the river, as Pharaoh commanded, she hid her son for three months. When she could no longer hide him, she put him in the water, just as Pharaoh had directed, but she protected him in his own personal ark! She demonstrated her faith and patience in the Almighty God and His power to save her son. She may have been hoping for the same miraculous salvation of faithful Noah and his family in his ark during the flood.
Jochebed trusted in the hope that God would protect her son. To this end, she asked her daughter Miriam to watch the floating ark. Miriam’s watchful eye, combined with Jochebed’s patient waiting upon God, was answered when Pharaoh’s daughter discovered the child and treated him with love and mercy (Exodus 2:7). God so arranged that Jochebed became Moses’ nurse. She partly raised him for perhaps five years (Exodus 2:8‑9).
Part of a mother’s gift to her children is the temperament they inherit from her. We may infer that Moses inherited some portion of his great meekness from his faithful mother, Jochebed. God used Moses as a brilliant leader, a meek shepherd of His people Israel. His eventual legacy reflects his mother’s meek and patient trust in God.
Just as Jesus would later prophesy that the meek would inherit the earth, we may be certain that Moses, the meekest in all the earth, will be instrumental as a resurrected Ancient Worthy in leading the nation of Israel to victory during Jacob’s Trouble (Micah 5:5, Zechariah 12:6). What a beautiful circle of life is found in the lasting heritage of Jochebed, this faithful woman of patience!
The Shunammite Woman (2 Kings 4:8‑37)
The scriptures often provide an account that is simply a sliver of a person’s life. That is the case with the Shunammite woman. Her brief history testifies that she was a woman of faith who correctly discerned that Elisha was a holy man. It describes how she sacrificed her time and means to serve this man of God.
We witness the patience of her faith in the episode when her miraculous little boy becomes tragically ill while working in the field with his father. Her son is brought to her in distress, and then he dies. In response, she lays him on the empty bed of the prophet Elisha, and sets out for the prophet, hoping for his help. While most mothers would surely stay by their sick child’s side in a similar situation, this woman left her son on Elisha’s bed to seek help from God’s faithful prophet. A mother’s care knows no limits. In the case of this faithful woman, love and patience were the engines that kept her going.
God did not reveal any details of the boy’s illness and death to Elisha before she found him. When informed of the boy’s situation, Elisha commanded his servant Gehazi to take the woman and go before him and lay his staff on the child. However, the Shunammite woman would not leave Elisha’s side during his slower journey back to her home.
Her actions displayed great reverence for God and a desire to bless His servants without expecting a reward. She demonstrated a counterintuitive application of a mother’s love by leaving her son to seek help from God’s faithful prophet. We are the benefactors of the Shunammite woman’s proactive and patient faith in the face of a great tragedy.
Widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8‑16)
When we stop short of God’s goal for us, the fruit of our labor, patience, and faith go undeveloped. The widow of Zarephath teaches us to strengthen our hope with patience when all rational indicators suggest impending failure.
The widow of Zarephath and her son were starving. At God’s command, the Prophet Elijah went to her home, and after learning of her desperate situation, asked her to make a small cake for him out of her last provisions. Elijah assured her that her flour and oil would not be empty until God would send the rain, ending the current drought. Her obedience was rewarded after she patiently sacrificed “her little all” to feed Elijah. God was true to His promise.
God sometimes tests our faith when we face difficulties. Let us not lose heart; let us not thwart God’s goal for our spiritual growth, even though it may happen in the face of great personal difficulty.
Across the scriptures, we see faithful women who struggled to see God’s light. Through every struggle, they believed that with humility, patience, and reverence, God would answer their prayers. Each of them experienced times when they lost hope, were angry, or made mistakes. Still, God rewarded their eventual faithfulness. Through their experiences, we see patience as a virtue that can only be developed with humility before God as its guide.
As we read their stories, we see a developing strength and consistency of character. Through their life testimonies, they demonstrate their faith and patience for us to examine. They reveal that patience is a “life lever” we have the ability to control. They leave us an example of how to use the “life lever” of patience as one of the tools toward success in our walk with God.