The Chayil Woman

Yesterday, I randomly came upon a show following some Kurdish fighters in the Middle East. As I watched, these two girls shown in the video brought me so much pride as a woman. It fascinated me that ISIS fears women. In the words of one of the girls, “ISIS view women as if they are nothing.” But then in the next sentence she says, “They say if a woman kills them, they’ll go to hell.”

The other girl gives the war cry and tells the viewers, “When they hear our war cry, they get confused and retreat.” Immediately something deep in me leapt. This statement is far more significant than she realizes. It is what I believe to be a perfect picture of the heavenly battle as well. And women are a part of that battle too.

As I watched these young girls, courageous and bold, I was reminded of the lesson that changed my view of womanhood.

One of the first things I ever gleaned from my Hebrew studies and what compelled me to go deeper was found in Proverbs 31, the infamous poem about the “Worthy Woman.”  But who is this Proverbs 31 woman, really? Is she the one who has the perfectly instagramed pinterest life? The woman we all role our eyes at when someone brings up how we should be more like her? Is she even real?

No, she isn’t picture perfect. She isn’t our competition. But she is real. She is the woman deeply hidden inside all of God’s daughters. She is our potential.

But there is one detail of this potential woman that the devil has tried to stifle and hide.
The first line of the poem about this worthy woman reads “Eishet chayil mi yimtza?” The majority of translations will translate the word “chayil” as “excellent,” but really that is selling God’s Word short. When you study that word, you will find that it actually means valor. Our Bibles should actually read, “A woman of valor who can find?”

And what is even more exciting is that while the word chayil is generally translated as “valor” or “noble,” it is nearly identical to the Hebrew word “chayal.” It is this word that the enemy tries to hide from God’s daughters.

Chayal means soldier. The woman of valor is first and foremost a soldier.

She is a fighter. Strong, competent, loyal to her God and her family. She fights for truth and justice. She stands sure-footed upon the Rock of her Salvation. She is wise and discerning, not living in idleness or competition. She rises each morning confident in Her Provider and eager to love those whom He has given to her. She fights for His Kingdom and for those who have yet to find Peace. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is not afraid of her enemy.

We all know the stereotype of a Biblical woman being soft-spoken, gentle, gracefully floating through the chaos of life with a smile. But do any of us actually feel like we fit that mold? I’ve never met one. And that is the trap. It’s a trap because deep in my heart I know the enemy is trying to steal women’s position as soldiers in God’s army.
We have a part to play in this Heavenly battle, girls. We have a war inside our homes and outside our doors. We all know this, but sometimes we as women think we are left to watch from the sidelines.

We are not sideline spectators. We are called to be chayil women, Women of Valor. It’s this chayil that Deborah, Ruth, and Esther modeled for us. Deborah modeled the leadership of a chayil woman, Ruth the character, and Esther the courage.

Just as we see these beautiful young Kurdish girls standing up to the evil of ISIS and scaring these men into a frenzied retreat, I believe the daughters of God do the same thing. When we discover who we are and what our role really is, our war cry of praise to the Heavenly Father gets the devil and his army shaking in fear.

But is a chayil woman all grit and guts? If we keep reading through the poem, we see that this woman of valor is then described as having value “far beyond pearls.” Pearls are the epitome of grace and beauty, soft and pure. A chayil woman is a beautiful contradiction.  She is strong yet kind, bold yet gracious, confident yet humble. She sits at her Father’s feet and longs for His nearness. She understands her weakness, but boasts of His strength. She is compassionate and servant-hearted. She mourns with those who mourn, comforts the hurting, and brings healing to the wounded.

This side of chayil is modeled by Rebekah’s kindness at the well, Miriam’s faith in praise, Hannah’s life of prayer, and Abigail’s standing for peace.

It seems to be a contradiction, but such character is a natural result of living life as a woman of God.

Our lives are not storybook easy, but they are meaningful and satisfying when lived in the presence of our Lord. When we come out of the furnace of affliction, sorrow, illness, or persecution, it is the developed character of Christ that brings us our beauty. Just as a pearl is found in a mollusk, so a woman’s beauty is found within. The birth of a pearl begins in hardship, and so does the character of a woman of valor.

Women, we are given this poem in Proverbs to be reminded that we are called to be strong soldiers of Christ prepared and able to fight on the front lines of this spiritual war but also to turn around and comfort the wounded. We are a beautiful juxtaposition.

It is this very fact that the devil doesn’t want us to know. He fights to keep us in a muted docile state because he knows when we figure out that we are actually soldiers in the making, with full authority over him by Jesus’ name…he knows he’s got trouble coming. The day we stop being afraid of him, he knows it’s game over in our life. We are no longer threatened but ourselves become a threat to him.

So to every woman out there who thought you had to shut up and sit down, stand up and sing. Sing of the glory of a God who values us as compassionate gracious women but also as soldiers able to bring advancement in His Kingdom. We are chayil women. We are women of valor in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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