28 October 2012

A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 28} ~ He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us ..."

"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers.... We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us..."

The Apostle Paul wrote those words to the church at Corinth. He and Timothy had walked an impossibly difficult season, so hard that they considered death more probable than life. I've had some challenging moments in my life ~ but I've never actually despaired of life itself.  

I thought immediately of this verse as word by word I've made my way through the verses in 1 Peter I've been studying this month... wondering if the expression "set our hope" was the same one as "put their hope."

They have the same Strong's Concordance number... but I don't want to dwell on the Greek today. I was just curious to see if both English expressions came from the same original word, and they do. That'll probably come up again, later!

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." I Peter 3.3-6
For this is the way
I think a good synonym for this phrase, in this verse, would be thus, even though it makes the sentence a bit awkward. Thus works like some sort of combo adverb and conjunction; it includes the idea that a woman's present behavior should result from the knowledge of God's pleasure first, but also because other women have walked well this same path. Not only does God value this behavior, it is one of those things for which God enables and empowers women - otherwise we wouldn't have the examples set before us of Sarah (or Ruth, or Naomi, or Rahab, or Esther, or Hannah, or Elizabeth, or Mary... to name a few). Peter reminds all women - two mitigating factors are undeniably present: 1) God's Spirit, and 2) the faithful example of those who've walked before. Therefore any other choice or behavior reflects clearly a spirit desiring neither quietness nor gentleness. Another way to state this phrase might be "in the manner now being indicated and exemplified..." Today's women have an amazing heritage to consider - and both a challenge and an encouragement.

the holy women 
Holy refers to set apart or otherness, encapsulating the idea of a likeness in nature to the Lord evidenced by a nature clearly different from that of the world. One other definition was distinguished - because identified as special or unique by God. Isn't it neat how this idea ties right back into the idea that God esteems women characterized by a gentle and quiet spirit. I can't forget, either, that these women would have had no native tendency in themselves to holiness; they were holy because God had called them and then declared them so.

I searched for other verses containing the two words holy and women - and found 16 references. Several of those verses, Old Testament references, referred to men consecrating themselves and therefore abstaining from relationships with women. In other verses, the words were not at all  specifically linked. But check out the following verses: 

  • But you speak the things which become sound doctrine:  That the aged men be sensible, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things... (Titus 2:1-3)
  • To the Church of God in Corinth, men and women consecrated in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-- their Lord as well as ours. (1 Corinthians 1:2)
of the past 
The original Greek word here in a word for word translation is "formerly;" it can also mean in the old time, in time past, once, when... My favorite? Once upon a time... just like all the princess stories start. I think I like that because it reminds me of three things: 1) princess stories always have happy endings, and the princess ends up delighting her prince;  2) those women fought their battle, were declared victorious and are now resting, redeemed and always beautiful;  and 3) their stories are there to encourage us

I can't think of the word "who" any more without thinking of the Dr Seuss inspired movie, Horton Hears a Who! and the line "a person's a person no matter how small." That thought sent my mind down a path - these women might seem unreachable or so good that their standards are far and above what I could ever achieve. If I say that, I'm just making an excuse. Each one was a person, an individual who mattered to God, just like me. The similarities between us most likely outweigh our differences. Their struggles may have been different, but they had struggles. Things and circumstances and imaginations tempted them to fear, just as they tempt me to fear. They had to fight and cling to hope, just as I do. Yet who were these women? They were holy women, putting their hope in God and making themselves beautiful as God had directed - in gentleness and quietness and trust.

put their hope  
There are two common connotations of the word hope: a confident expectation or a desire one would be delighted to see realized. And those two are very far apart. Hope in this verse is much more the first: an active waiting for fulfillment. It is not a question of if, but rather a question of when - and the waiter is so sure of the eventual outcome, she stands at the window, watching continually, preparing and readying herself for the imminent arrival.

I also love the intentionality of these words. When I tell my kiddos to "Put their toys away," or to "Set the table," or "Put your book bag in the car," I mean for them to deliberately and usually carefully place something in an exact, pre-specified location. Women are to intentionally, deliberately, precisely, specifically and carefully place their hope in an exact, very specific location....

in God 
...and this is the exact, very specific location: God. It is good that this is specified. So often, the temptation is to place hope in a husband, or a marriage, or kids. I often struggle with this because I can't "hear," "see" and  "feel" God as readily as I hear, see and feel my husband. I have to work at and practice the presence of God. His still, quiet voice is easily drowned out in the raucous world and family in which I live.

I love the two connotations possible with this word. The first directs minds towards the past, looking at history (or "His"story)  and what has happened before. But is also includes the idea of a tool employed and put into service for a reason. It intimates that a person is availing oneself of what is obtainable and accessible. That thought amazes me. Working towards the unfading beauty of a gentle, quiet spirit, putting hope in God - those are the tools available... obtainable... accessible as we seek to make ourselves beautiful in God's eyes.

to make themselves beautiful.
Here, we return to the idea of adorning... or decorating. It is not those things we hang all over the outside to cover up or distract from the imperfections and faults that give a woman a lovely appearance. Rather, it is the presence of the Spirit within, shining through unfettered and unhindered that pleases God.

A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 14} - pictures of gentleness
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 15} - Multitude Monday ~ all Greek to me!
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 16} ~ she came from the Land Down Under
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 17} - Walk with Him Wednesday ~ How did you answer my question from last week?
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 18} ~ that fictional frontier lady who inspires me ~ 
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 19} - Five Minute Friday ~ Look 
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 20} - should not come from
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 21} ~ Why do braids, gold and fancy clothes matter?
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 22} - Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts - Today I'm thankful for the word INSTEAD...
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 23} ~ three missionary heroes I've never met... yet!
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 24} - Walk with Him Wednesday ~ the "Czar" of our yard
A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 25} ~ a gal from England

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