“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
Last summer, my mother-in-law, Adeline, went home to God after a very long illness. At Calverton, where she is interred, they allow space for eleven characters as an epitaph on her marker. Certainly, the family considered very carefully what those few words should be. We certainly could have chosen phrases like “Loving Wife” or similar. Unfortunately, you don’t have too much choice given the space limitations. However, my wife, Karen knew all along what the wording should be: “Proverbs 31”. This was what she read at her mom’s funeral service (verses 10-31).
While this section of chapter 31 offers a wonderful description of the excellent wife and mother, it is the selfless inner strength of the Proverbs 31 woman that I believe is the most beautiful. “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong” (31:17). It’s interesting to note that the woman described is not necessarily soft on the outside, but by virtue of rigorous work, strong. While this verse does refer to physical strength, verse 25 means strength of character. This is accomplished not by achievement, but by a healthy fear of the Lord, which is the key to wisdom, understanding, and virtue in the first place ( Proverbs 1:1-7).
A note to all the moms: God has not called you to be perfect. He has called you to delight yourselves in Him and the rest will come (Psalm 37:4). It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate and even unappreciated. That’s a lie of the enemy. Even if your home situation is less than desirable, know that God delights in you (Psalm 18:19)! If fact, He loved you before you loved Him (1 John 4:19).
A note to husbands and children of all ages: All too often, we take those character qualities in our wives and mothers for granted. The routine of life will do that. We expect certain things done in our homes. Dinner, cleaning up, laundry— all this while working in an outside job, which is the case for many households. It’s only when, for some reason, something isn’t done, we notice. The COVID pandemic has certainly altered life as we know it. Hopefully it’s given us a renewed appreciation of all that is on the shoulders of the one we call “wife” or “mother.” Their value must not be overlooked. This goes for wives and moms that are elderly too! After all, we simply need to take the time to notice! Remember verse 25 means that strength of character is her clothing—which is to say that she shows those qualities in her life. Appreciate them— shortcomings and all! And know we all fall short!
Among the many gifts we can give to our mothers and wives this Mother’s Day is, first and foremost, the gift of appreciation. By the way, this gift goes a long way even in troubled situations and relationships. It will also help with the last part of verse 25: “And she laughs at the time to come.” This simply means “the future.” To say that she laughs at the future, I believe means that she is not afraid of the future.
What an awesome gift to bestow indeed!
Pastor Joe Garofalo