What a gift—to live in our time! Today is a day of great opportunity for women. We can now break through to new positions and levels of authority in all spheres. Women currently lead in every sector of society. We direct schools, universities, corporations, churches, governments and nations.
In the midst of this unparalleled opportunity, there's also great trouble: war, earthquakes, tsunamis, famines and devastating weather patterns. We live in a country divided by every kind of controversy. Unrighteousness is now being legislated so that people can "legally" sin. Call it a day of immense turmoil and pain.
The world has never needed answers like it does today. It needs bearers of good news, healers and deliverers. It needs women who are captured by the very heart of God—women who don't see problems, but see solutions.
Consider Deborah, a woman who led a nation through times of great strife (Judg. 4–5). When she became Israel's leader, the nation was suffering under the consequences of its own sin.
The people had chosen new gods, and as a result there was war at the gates. An enemy army surrounded them. Life was so dangerous that highways were deserted and people traveled by hidden paths, or they simply stayed at home. Judges 5:7 says that life in the village had stopped.
But Deborah possessed a different spirit than others around her. Judges 5:6-7 recounts the situation: "'In the days ... of Jael, the roads were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths. Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel'" (NIV, emphasis added).
What a statement for Deborah to make! She positively and confidently knew that she would turn her nation around.
Deborah perceived mothers to be more than just bearers of children. She saw motherhood as a leadership and problem-solving role extending beyond the family. Women with a true mother's heart are created to find solutions and lead people to victory. Deborah said, "I know I was made for this. I know I can solve this nation's problems." What faith! It was a faith that apprehended the promises of God.
The apostle Paul said, in Acts 14:22, that it's through much "tribulation" we enter the kingdom of God (NKJV). According to Strong's Concordance, the word tribulation comes from a Greek word denoting affliction, trouble, anguish, burden and persecution. It means to be crowded around by problems or caught in a narrow place where escape is impossible.
This isn't a pretty picture. But Deborah wasn't deterred. She said, "I'm getting in line. This is my day. I was made for this!" Paul's message isn't just for Deborah. It's for us too. Tribulation is our entry fee or ticket into the kingdom of God.
In the book of Hosea, we find that Israel was once again punished and restored. God said, "'There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope'" (2:15, NIV). Achor means "trouble." And the "door of hope" isn't just wishful thinking. It is positive expectation.
The Hebrew translation also calls it a "rope." This means that hope wraps itself around the faithful in the valley of trouble and pulls them, through their attitude, to a place of triumph. So, when trouble comes, look ahead for the victory.
This is what Deborah believed. She was energized and confidently expectant. She expected to change her world.
I remember my spiritual mentor preaching on what Paul said in Acts 14:22. Back then I didn't get it. It bothered me so much that one day I took it up with God in prayer.
Suddenly, while praying, God painted a vivid picture for me that helped me understand. That day, I learned this truth: Trouble is the door to a new place in God's kingdom.
Standing up through a season of trouble does something to us that nothing else can do. Strength begins to line our backbone. We begin to understand we're part of a kingdom that will stand firm, no matter how much the world shakes. And the next time we experience trouble, there's within us a greater strength and grace to overcome.
The message of the New Testament is the message of the kingdom. We're part of an invisible, eternal kingdom ruled by the King of all kings. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:10 that every knee, both in heaven and on earth, will one day bow at the name of Jesus, this King of kings.
Most believers have no idea what kind of power and authority is at their disposal. Many women don't comprehend that they're more than just a cultural subset in this nation. Their goal is to live a nice life with great kids, a wonderful husband and good friends. But God intended far more than that.
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