The Clothing of Strength and Dignity

Posted by on Aug 31, 2011 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

The day we told our extended family about my diagnosis of breast cancer, I had the opportunity to share with them two verses that had already been ministering to me tremendously in the weeks of handling this news personally.

One of those verses was/is from Proverbs 31.  It’s verse 25 and says about the Proverbs woman,

“She is clothed with strength and dignity and smiles at the days to come.”

I knew some things that were expected to happen, and I knew I needed some backup Scripture prescriptions to make it through this unplanned adventure.

It still remains a favorite verse to me.

                                                   Smiling.  : )

In my attempt to find a picture to represent strength and dignity I could find nothing.  I allowed the search to keep me too engaged in front of this screen and was a few minutes late in meeting a friend at the local Panera.  About the time she and I were beginning our visit, I couldn’t pay attention to her because off in the distance two women came in of different ages.  One younger than the other and she was helping her friend come in on a walker.  I watched.  They got a table.  The younger one ordered and came back and they held hands across the table, bowed their heads and prayed.  I wanted to cry.  That was my picture!  Together they made a sweet picture of the beautiful pairing of strength and dignity.  They both exemplified each of these in their demeanor.  

I told my friend I wanted to go ask them if I could take their picture for today’s post.  She looked and knew one of them, who as it turned out I had met two weeks ago.  And so we got up and went over to their table.  After reintroducing myself, I told them what I wanted to do and they kindly agreed amidst giggles for me to snap their photo of fellowship time between two friends.  (Thank you sweet ladies for your kindness to have your essence captured because I trust it’s going to minister to others reading this today.  Here’s why.)

Oh, we don’t have a clue what is in store for us tomorrow.  We make plans.  We want to stick to those plans so much!  But, sometimes, something comes along and knocks us for a bit of a loop.  It’s crazy.  Life.

How are we preparing today for handling tomorrow?  I mean handling from the inside out.  Where are we engaging our minds to build strength?  Are we storing up treasures from the Word to feed on during famine?  What is our approach to life?  To others?  To trials?  To joy?  To God?  To the lost?  To the saved?  To other races?

When we walk into Panera, do others see strength and dignity or flippancy and rebellion?  Do we spread joy in the midst of our lives or do we spread the manure of bitterness and sour wounds?

How do we respond in those moments of trials, testing, hard times?

This Proverbs lady captures my heart when I hear that she is clothed in strength and dignity AND smiles/laughs at the days to come.  She’s a realist.  She’s prepared.  She’s confident that how she is living today is a wise investment for days ahead.  I’m not talking monetarily either.  I’m talking investment in relationships (like the most important one with God) and wise living early on for that confidence in days to come.

Matthew Henry says it so well:

“She has the comfort and satisfaction of her virtue in her own mind (v. 25): Strength and honour are her clothing, in which she wraps herself, that is, enjoys herself, and in which she appears to the world, and so recommends herself. She enjoys a firmness and constancy of mind, has spirit to bear up under the many crosses and disappointments which even the wise and virtuous must expect to meet with in this world; and this is her clothing, for defence as well as decency. She deals honourably with all, and she has the pleasure of doing so, and shall rejoice in time to come; she shall reflect upon it with comfort, when she comes to be old, that she was not idle or useless when she was young. In the day of death it will be a pleasure to her to think that she has lived to some good purpose. Nay, she shall rejoice in an eternity to come; she shall be recompensed for her goodness with fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.”Henry, M. (1996). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Pr 31:10–31). Peabody: Hendrickson

Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible is a wise investment every day in your strength and dignity tomorrow.  Take a few minutes today and talk with God about your life…where you’ve come from and where you see yourself headed.  Ask Him for His strength to face the challenges you are facing.

Another thing I did when going through cancer, was to try to fall asleep with a smile on my face.  Nope.  I’m not kidding.  I would face the window of our bedroom, close my eyes, thank God for the gift of another day, and then smile.  Why don’t you try that tonight before you close your eyes.

Opportunity for Response:
Just let me know in a comment where you see yourself in today’s post.
Share an example of someone you know personally who radiates strength and dignity from the inside.

Share some Gracious Good Feedback