Laughing at the Days to Come

I don’t know any woman who truly likes the woman described in Proverbs 31. If you don’t know, the 31st chapter of Proverbs has this description of the woman parexcellance. She cleans the dishes, knits her children everything from clothing to quilts, and is an entrepreneur on the side, buying and selling at the local market, one would imagine, with a child feeding at the breast and another little one in tow.
Every Christian woman is called to be her, tries to be her and maybe even wants to be her. I can’t tell you how many studies and sermons I’ve heard titled “The Proverbs 31 Woman” or something like that. But who doesn’t get tired just reading the chapter? The beginning question of the soliloquy describing her is, “Who can find a woman of worth?” (the woman of worth being the superwoman she then describes in the chapter). The questioner knows the answer. And the answer is silence.
But in the middle of the incredibly high-minded description of the perfect woman, there’s this little sentence that caught my eye awhile ago, and it’s a statement that follows me around like a tune I can’t get out of my head. The speaker, in describing this woman, says: “… she smiles at the future.” Or as another translation puts it, “She laughs at the days to come.”
The statement is deceiving, because it sounds so easy in comparison to everything else the woman has to do each day. Just be happy. Just be lighthearted. Just let go of your fears and act like, one way or another, everything is going to be ok.
But it’s not easy. In fact, out of everything mentioned in the glowing description of the perfect woman, it’s the hardest, most difficult thing to do, because a woman, or man, who spends all that time haggling with the local merchants, all that time trying to keep the toddlers Billy, Tod, and little precious Sophi from killing one another, all that time sewing patches on to clothing because they don’t have enough to go buy something new at the store, all that time trying to be there for the people in her life who bring their problems and issues to her because she’s “that Proverbs 31 woman” can’t possibly be expected not to worry from time to time, or to cry from time to time!… To feel alone from time to time and anything but lighthearted and joyful about the future.
But in that very same statement is the answer to how she gets through everything else, because at the end of the day, after the kids are put to bed and the last dish has been put in the dishwasher, she can look up at the icon of Christ hanging on her wall and know and feel that whatever the mess is that that the day brought, it is still a holy mess. And whatever circumstances and crosses the day brings, at the other end of it – and oftentimes even in it – is the resurrection. She smiles at the future as Jesus smiled at the joy of knowing His cross would bring you and me to heaven forever with Him. He didn’t like the cross any more than she likes the tired mornings, loud days, and exhausting nights. But bit by bit, day by day, redemption is being sewn along with those patches into the fabric or her life and the lives of her family and friends. And every day has it’s own little joys and triumphs that she ponders within her like the Mother of God.
I can be a workaholic. I’ve got that down. I can spout theology. That’s not hard for me. But oh how hard it is to smile at the future, because, like the woman, I know too well that the future doesn’t always hand you things to smile about. The hardest lesson to learn is how to see with the eyes of faith that, as one Puritan writer put it, our circumstances are the fingers of God in our lives. And if it is His hands, and His hands, alone that are holding us, then not only can we lay down our fears, but we can shout for joy and laugh at the days to come.

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