Pretty cursive designs filled my Pinterest screen. At the flip of my thumb, fonts, pictures, and water-colored flowers flew past—all communicating one verse:
"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come."
(Proverbs 31:25 ESV)
Yet one does not need to get on Pinterest or be a Christian to have heard these words before, and I was no exception. T-shirts. Mugs. Bumper stickers. Without knowing it, I became numb.
In fact, not even a week after scrolling through those Pinterest backgrounds, I found myself floundering when faced with a series of personal trials. As I sat in my parked car with my head bent and my hands tightly gripped on the steering wheel in a sad attempt to steady my world, this verse was the last thing on my mind. Hot tears rolled down my cheeks as frustration and deep pain that I had been holding in were released. How did this all happen? Where did I go wrong? What was I supposed to do now?
Despite all of the times I had explored Proverbs 31, outlined it, read articles and blog posts about it, and asked God to help me have attributes from it, this particular verse did not truly begin to penetrate my heart until this year.
Moments in my car like the one described above came from times when everything seemed to fall apart. I must admit: I did not feel strong. I did not look dignified. And I most certainly was not laughing.
Even so, the Lord is abundantly gracious. The Holy Spirit recently brought Proverbs 31:25 to mind and used it to lay heavy and sweet conviction upon my soul.
As I share what the Lord highlighted to me, I pray that whatever season you find yourself in, this would grow your internal savoring of God and your external exalting of God by helping focus your gaze upon the all-sufficient goodness of God.
Here are three meditations on this verse to guide you in this growth:
1. We have strength that is not of this world.
A common idea thrown around in Christian community is that we have strength in God only in the context of loss or extreme tribulation. Believer, strength should not be just a shield that is held up in the midst of turmoil, but a garment worn daily.
When distress comes, do not succumb to the pride-filled response of the world. We often hear that if we just buckle down and work, or even turn our hearts to stone, we will become strong by our own power. This is a lie.
Rely on the strength of God. Put your trust in Him, for it is when you trust the promises God makes about Himself that real strength is found. As you recall who He is, remember the identity He gave you. When strength dwindles, remember that we are "more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37, emphasis mine).
2. Our duty is to display the glory of God through dignity.
Unlike the idea of strength found in the Lord, the concept of dignity often goes unnoticed or misunderstood in our culture.
The Hebrew word used in this verse is (transliterated) “hâdâr” and is used in Scripture to describe magnificence, splendor, beauty, excellence, glory, honor, and majesty. Is this not who our God is? What a joy to be able to, through the power of the Holy Spirit, reflect His character while we are on this earth.
3. Our confidence in God should be evident to others.
Just as strength and dignity should visibly cover the follower of Christ, so should this laughter. Why? Because there should be a radiant external manifestation of a beautiful internal reality. This is evident throughout the Scriptures, but in Apostle Paul's prayer found in his Epistle to the Romans, we are given an even more specific example of what the believer's trust in God should produce:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (15:13, ESV, emphasis mine).
The laughter of the woman in the text is not some empty, fake, ignorant giggle. This melodious noise is the resounding, joy-filled outpouring of knowing her God is sovereign and her hope is in Jesus Christ alone! By God’s grace, may we be filled with similar demonstrations of surety in our Lord.
Beloved, take heart when the world seems to crush you. Know that it is okay to be sad or to cry. There is “a time to weep and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). But at all times, we must lean on our holy and compassionate Father and trust the promise that He works all things together for our good and His glory.
As we dwell upon our identity as adopted sons and daughters chosen by the Most High, let us be daily clothed as His children ought to be clothed: dressed in garments of righteous strength and dignity. As we gaze at the goodness and hope found in our God, let us laugh in the face of the enemy and at his attempts to draw us into despair. And as we overflow with such untainted, unrestrained, fearless laughter, may it reach the ears of those who do not yet know Him and become a beacon of beauty and light used to draw them closer to His Kingdom.