Those who are closest to me know that watching movies is not one of my favorite recreational activities. There are a number of other things I would prefer to do in my free time. Sitting in front of a screen for several hours just seems like a waste of time to me, and besides that I have a pretty high criteria for any movie to motivate me to invest two hours of my life watching it. This is especially true if I’m also going to spend money to go to the theater. There are very few movies that I’m ever interested in enough to go to the movie theater to see. But, a few months ago my daughter wanted her sister and I to go out to dinner and to the theater with her in celebration of my birthday. Now, I was interested in this movie for several different reasons. It was my kind of movie… it was magical and romantic and it had a happy ending, with no profanity or violence or sex scenes. I also looked forward to seeing this movie with my daughters because the very name of the film stirred up nostalgic feelings for me as my mind recalled precious memories of my daughters when they were little girls. Probably many of my readers have guessed by now that I’m referring to the enchanting tale of Cinderella. You see, when my oldest daughter, Hannah, was a little girl her favorite book was an old worn out copy of the beautifully illustrated, Cinderella. I have no idea how many times my little girl with blonde curls and a cute speech impediment would come crawl up in my lap with that book in tow, and ask me to read it to her. I can just tell you that by the time she was able to read it for herself we both pretty much had it memorized. And then there was my sweet, cuddly baby girl, Rachel. My husband and I bought an animated version of Cinderella when Rachel was very small, and it was by far her favorite movie. I cannot count the times she would want me to watch her beloved Cinderella with her. We would curl up on the sofa together and escape into the fantasy world of pumpkins, princes, and fairy godmothers. And just as Hannah had the book memorized, Rachel could quote the entire movie line by line by the time she could read. So, when Hannah had this idea for the three of us to go see Cinderella on the big screen together it brought back a myriad of treasured memories that had been long ago tucked into my heart. And although I looked forward to our “girls” excursion, I was a little apprehensive. I was afraid that surely Hollywood would lose the beauty and the innocence of the story that we were so familiar with. After all, the present rarely lives up to especially fond recollections from the past. Boy, was I wrong! I was delightfully surprised. I absolutely loved the movie, and my family can testify that those words rarely come out of my mouth. The scenery was beautiful, the cinematography breathtaking, and none of the magic was lost. I enjoyed it so much that for the first time in my life I returned to the theater to view the same film twice. Believe it or not my husband wanted to see it, and I was ready to watch it again. I enjoyed the second time just as much as I did the first, and I enjoyed it again the third time after we purchased the movie on DVD to enjoy with our granddaughter. Now, our granddaughter is only eighteen months old, but that seemed like a good reason to purchase such a delightful movie.
There was a line in the movie that resonated with me the first time I saw it, but it gripped me after the second viewing, and I knew that eventually I would write about it. As Cinderella’s mother was close to death she spoke a few profound words to her little girl. She didn’t tell her to be a good girl or to take care of her father or to remember her fondly. It was as if she knew what this innocent little girl’s future held, and she simply told her to “have courage and be kind”. In the fairly tale, those five words shaped the little girl into the woman she would become. And as I have meditated on those words, I have thought over and over again about what a powerful combination those two qualities are in a woman who professes to know and love Jesus Christ.
You see, I know a number of Christian women who are courageous. These are women who will boldly defend their families, the weak, those who are commonly mistreated, the unborn, and the truths of God’s word. I’ve read of some of these brave women in the Scripture; women like the mother of Moses who courageously hid her baby boy nestled in a basket of bulrushes in a dirty, crocodile infested river. I’ve experienced the joy of having two baby boys of my own, and I’ve also had the unforgettable experience of standing on the banks of the Nile River, and I’m telling you it would take a lot of courage, as well as, a lot of faith for any woman to place her little baby in that river. I’ve read of the courage of Jael who drove a tent peg through the temple of the enemy of God with a hammer. Imagine how that would look on the resume of the average Christian woman! And then there is my favorite woman in the Scripture, Rahab, the former harlot. I love reading of her courage in hiding the spies sent by Joshua into Jericho at the risk of her own life.
I’ve also read of and heard of many courageous women whom God has been pleased to use throughout church history. One of those women was Sabrina Wurmbrand. Sabrina Wurmbrand was the wife of Richard Wurmbrand who wrote the well-known book, Tortured for Christ. When the Communist Party took control of Romania in 1947, all the pastors in that country were gathered together. In that gathering, one by one, they were brought forward onto a platform and asked to swear allegiance to the Communist dictator of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin. And one by one, they bowed the knee to Stalin. Appalled, Sabrina Wurmbrand turned to her husband and said, “Go up there and wipe the spit off the Savior’s face.” Richard reminded his dear wife that if he refused to comply she would lose her husband. Her courageous reply was, “I don’t need a cowardly husband.” I believe the faith and courage of this woman enabled her husband to boldly reply to the Communist leaders, “I serve one far greater than Stalin, the Lord Jesus Christ.” He refused to bow his knee to any man, and as a result he was thrown into prison for six years. Upon his release, he again began preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus, and was imprisoned for an additional 8 years.
Dear sisters in Christ, we do not know what the future holds for any of us. We may very well be called to stand courageously behind our husbands as we face persecution and great suffering for the cause of Christ. In Deuteronomy 31:6 Moses told the people of Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” This glorious truth is proclaimed again in the New Testament. Hebrews 13:5b-6 tells us, “…He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”’ In fact, we are told over and over again throughout the Scriptures not to fear, but rather to trust in the Lord. Although we do not know what the future holds, we can rest assured in the One who so wisely knows and plans our futures in His kind Providence.
But courage alone is not enough. There is another quality that God wants to build in us, and that is the Christlike virtue of kindness. One of the specific things the Apostle Paul instructed Titus that the older women were to teach the younger women was to be kind. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:32 to be kind to one another, and it is actually a fruit of the Spirit. Kind words and kind deeds are a very important part of what makes a woman beautiful. Again, I have been blessed to read about, hear about, and to personally know numerous women who have excelled in the virtue of kindness. We have examples in the Scripture of women of God who expressed great kindness such as the Shunammite women who prepared a room for Elijah to use when he passed by. We see the kindness of Ruth as she left her own people to accompany her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Bethlehem after the deaths of her husband and her sons. Ruth lovingly and tenderly cared for Naomi. In the New Testament Paul speaks of the kindness of Lydia and Dorcas. We have all read true stories of those who have come to faith in Christ because of the unmerited kindness someone showed them, often even after they had mistreated the one who continued to express gentleness and charity toward them.
Courage and kindness are two beautiful graces, but rarely do they show up together. It seems that very often when a woman is brave and courageous, her demeanor is not characterized by gentleness or kindness. Of course, sadly, all too often it seems that the opposite is true as well. A woman may be renowned for her benevolence and charity, but those types of women many times are timid and fearful. Rarely, do you find a woman who is both consistently kindhearted, and at the same time, a woman of courageous resolve. But, when you have the lovely combination of courage and kindness, bravery and benevolence, fearlessness and femininity, you find a stunning portrait of a godly woman. We see the joining together of these two features in that amazing woman of Proverbs 31. Verse 17 tells us that “She girds herself with strength and strengthens her arms.” And in verse 25 we find that “Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.” Another translation reads, “She laughs at the time to come.” In other words, she is not afraid of the future because she fears the Lord. Her confident trust is in Him. But, not only is this woman courageous, she is also very kind. “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” (verse 26) She not only spoke kind words, she also carried out a multitude of kind deeds toward her family, her servants, the poor and the needy. The impact of such a woman on her family, her church, and her community is indescribable.
Consequently, my dear friends, I want to encourage you to strive to become women of great courage because we serve a powerful and sovereign God. At the same time, please allow me to urge you to endeavor to be women of kindness in word and deed, because we have an infinitely kind Savior. May the Lord be pleased to make us women who have courage and are kind for the glory of God, the advancement of His kingdom, and the praise of His dear Son!