5 inspirational strong women of the Bible
Strong women inspire me. From young girls using their voices to grandmothers raising up the next generation to be confident in themselves, it‚Äôs amazing to witness courageous women in action. And in a time where equality is still fiercely fought for, we want to celebrate International Women‚Äôs Day by honouring some of the great women of the Bible whose strength and compassion still resonates.
And throughout the world, girls and women are being empowered every day through Compassion child sponsorship and Survival programmes to be their modern-day counterparts. From the faithful Martha to the courageous Abigail, we hope this collection of some of our favourite Bible stories of women encourages you.
Martha ‚Äď faith-filled woman of the Bible
‚ÄúAre you a Martha or a Mary?‚ÄĚ I‚Äôve lost count of the number of times I‚Äôve been asked this question and to be honest, I‚Äôve always resonated more with Martha. Not for the Mary/Martha story but for another reason. Martha appears three times in the Bible including one of the most powerful testimonies in Scripture, when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. And it‚Äôs in this story that Martha shows the unshakeable strength of her faith.
A personal friend of Jesus, Martha lived in Bethany with her brother Lazarus and sister Mary. In John 11, Lazarus falls seriously ill and despite sending a message to Jesus asking for help, Lazarus passes away before Jesus arrives. However, Martha‚Äôs absolute faith in Jesus shines through when she runs to meet him.
Lord,‚ÄĚ Martha said to Jesus, ‚Äúif you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask. (John 11:21-22 NIV).
Jesus does the miraculous and resurrects Lazarus to complete and full health. How amazing is it to witness that strength of faith, to be so convinced of God‚Äôs provision and power no matter what happens in the natural? Through Martha‚Äôs story we learn the importance of trusting God even when all seems lost.
Martha ‚Äď a woman of determination
Martha from Indonesia is also a faith-filled woman whose strength in the face of adversity shines through.
When Martha was just five years old, she lost part of her leg when she was hit by a motorcycle. But she refused to let this horrible accident define her or stop her. No matter what life throws at her, Martha is determined to give her children the best possible life.
I‚Äôm really thankful for the support I have received from Compassion and our local church. I have received so many helpful benefits. My family‚Äôs biggest challenge is that we have very little money. We realise that we are very poor.
Martha is part of Compassion‚Äôs Survival programme in Indonesia where she has been taught how to weave and provided with chickens to start a business in order to generate income to support her family including her three sons.
‚ÄúMy children will have healthy bodies, they will not become malnourished," Martha says. "I apply the knowledge that I received from the programme. I want to thank the implementers and coordinators of the programme for their efforts in taking care of us as mothers. They‚Äôre really taking care of us and treat is in a special way.‚ÄĚ
Esther ‚Äď an influential woman of the Bible
‚ÄúFor if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father‚Äôs family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?‚ÄĚ (Esther 4:14).
This Scripture has as much weight and resonance today as it did back then. Because you have been born for such a time as this. Your voice matters. You matter. And never let anyone tell you different.
A young Jewish woman in the Persian empire, Esther was beautiful and ‚Äėwon the favour of everyone who saw her.‚Äô But this queen was never meant to be simply ornamental ‚Äď she is one of the most prominent women of the Bible. Faced with the possibility of death, Esther chose to act despite fear when the people she loved were placed in danger. She was a prayerful woman ‚Äď praying and fasting to God, waiting upon His timing. And through her influence, she was able to prevent the genocide of the Jews in her kingdom. How amazing is that!
The book of Esther in the Old Testament shows how courage can save a nation and how an unlikely hero can change the course of history.
Esther ‚Äď an influential teenager from Kenya
In Mathare, one of the largest slums in Nairobi, lives another young lady called Esther. This determined teenager knows what being beautiful means and the impact we can all have on others, encouraging them and teaching them.
‚ÄúIt is important for girls to feel beautiful. If someone tells you that you are ugly you can tell them you are beautiful ‚Äď only if you know in your heart that you‚Äôre beautiful. True beauty comes from education. We are the ones who can show the younger girls how to carry themselves. We can help direct them.‚ÄĚ
Abigail ‚Äď a strong woman of the Bible
Wisdom and beauty both found a home in Abigail, whose story is found in 1 Samuel. Described as, ‚Äú‚Ä¶ an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings‚ÄĚ (1 Samuel 25:3), Abigail carried herself with dignity and integrity despite her circumstances.
And when the lives of those around her were placed in jeopardy, Abigail leapt into action in order to save them.
12-year-old Abigail ‚Äď a strong woman in the making
This desire to protect others is echoed in 12-year-old Abigail, who also wants to protect people like her Biblical namesake. From Mexico, Abigail is sponsored through Compassion, enabling her to go to school, receive food, medical check-ups and to dream of a new future free from poverty. She wants to be a military doctor so she can help other people.
She shares, ‚ÄúThe reason I would like to become a military doctor is because I want to help those that are in need. They help when there are troubles in the country like people killing children. If I could tell the world how I am, I would tell them that I like to play basketball and I don‚Äôt like to play soccer and I like to make a lot of friends. I like to play with my sister, we like to pretend that we are baking cakes with mud.‚ÄĚ
Compassion child sponsorship makes a real difference to girls like Abigail living in the vulnerability of poverty. Discover how you can sponsor a girl and keep her in the classroom.
Sponsor a girl like Abigail
Deborah ‚Äď a powerful woman in the Bible
A prophetess and honoured judge, Deborah is one of the most awe-inspiring women of the Bible. A great role model for all those called to lead, Deborah, ‚Äúheld court under the Palm of Deborah‚Ä¶and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.‚ÄĚ (Judges 4:5).
One of the hallmarks of Deborah‚Äôs leadership is her willingness to follow God‚Äôs call and to give Him the credit rather than leading out of her own strength. The song of Deborah reminds us that in the battles of life, we are not alone or unaided.
Deborah ‚Äď being empowered to become a leader
Children are often referred to as the church of today and the leaders of tomorrow. And in Rwanda, 16-year-old Deborah is being empowered to become a leader through sponsorship which provides education and medical check-ups.
But ill health can quickly become a barrier to bright futures. ‚ÄúMy children have agonised over amoebas, typhoid and worms, sometimes three to four times a month. It‚Äôs a common problem in many homes,‚ÄĚ shares Tamari, Deborah‚Äôs mum. ‚ÄúWhen sickness strikes, it‚Äôs always a difficult time for our family. Deborah has fallen ill more often and missed out on chores, play and school. There was a time she was so ill that she missed doing her exams and repeated a grade.‚ÄĚ
Thanks to a RESPOND initiative, Deborah and 244 other children received a water filter in August 2015 to curb the rampant water-borne infections at the project. Tamari is delighted in the change to her children‚Äôs health as a result. ‚ÄúRight now, I‚Äôm just happy that Deborah‚Äôs health is improving.‚ÄĚ
Anna ‚Äď a devoted woman of the Bible
In just three sentences, the life of Anna is shown to be an extraordinary journey of trust and devotion, overflowing with her love for God. An 84-year-old prophetess, Anna recognises Jesus as the Messiah and became one of the first Christian missionaries, going forth to share the good news of Jesus.
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38).
Eighty four years of waiting, of worshipping, of trusting. Every day Anna chose to hold true to her faith no matter the circumstances. She devoted her whole life to trusting in God‚Äôs provision and her long years of waiting were rewarded by being able to gaze upon the face of Jesus.
Anna ‚Äď a devoted grandmother
The everyday choice of devotion is echoed in the life of Anna in Honduras. Anna has worked hard all her life to feed her family and even though she is now a grandmother, she still perseveres to lift her family out of poverty including her granddaughter, Diana.
‚ÄúI have recycled cardboard all my life. Since I had to work I had to take Diana with me to recycle. We used to leave in the morning and come back at night. Now it's dangerous to go later at night. We made around $50 month which we used for food and medicine for Diana."
Thanks to sponsorship through Compassion, the financial strain on the family has been eased, including managing Diana‚Äôs ongoing health problems. Anna shares, ‚ÄúNow she is supported from Compassion's RESPOND Medical Fund and gets medicine. Before she used to faint and have headaches every day. But now she's been doing okay."
There are so many amazing women in the Bible who inspire us. We pray for these women to be our role models, to encourage us to step out in faith, to be Godly leaders in our spheres of influence.
As that famous saying goes, here‚Äôs to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.