Thursday, March 24, 2016

How Did She Do It?

            There are certain people in the bible whom I turn to when I need strength, encouragement, understanding or wisdom. When I need strength and courage I turn to Paul and read some of his epistle’s. When I need understanding or wisdom I read the Psalms and Proverbs. But then there are those times when my heart is weakened by the hurt of this world and I run to the life of Abigail. Abigail has been a source of encouragement for me since the moment I became a Christian. Her strength and wisdom in the midst of a hopeless and hurtful marriage has shown me time and time again that with God all things are possible.
            But how did she do it? How did she, day after day, live with such oppression and pain? Men like Nabal are hurtful in their words and in the things that they do to other people. They are like kings in their own eyes. No one is as smart as they are. No one is as good as they are in anything. They are masters of everything and their genius is above all others- in their own minds. No one, no matter the topic, is as right as they are. People like this are very hard to live with. So how did she do it? How did she get up every morning and live through the hurt of knowing that no matter what, she would never be good enough?
“Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife, Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; for he was a Calebite.” 1 Samuel 25:3 ESV
            First of all, Abigail’s name gives us a hint into her character. Her name means “my Father is joy”. Abigail was most likely an optimist. One of those who saw the glass half full. Even when her world was falling down around her she always found something to be grateful for. She most likely clung to whatever joy she could find in her world around her. What encouragement that is! No matter how bad her circumstances got she always found joy in the midst of it.
            The meaning of her name reminds me of a children’s ministry song we used to sing.
“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart.... And I’m so happy so very happy. I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart.” Abigail’s joy was not dependent upon her circumstances. Let’s face it, her circumstances were rotten! He joy was her relationship with her Father. Her joy came from His Spirit dwelling with her and in her. She was truly happy.
            Next, scripture tells us that Abigail was discerning and beautiful. The New King James states she was of good understanding. Both descriptions cover a wide variety of characteristics that Abigail displayed. She was kind, she was pleasant to be around, she was gracious, she was one of those people that you just wanted to be friends with. She was that person you wanted to be like too. She was happy, despite her marriage. She most likely bore the fruit of the Spirit in her everyday life. (Galatians 5:22-23)
            Even in the midst of all the struggle and all the hurt Abigail never lost sight of who she was in Christ. Nabal could rant and rave and say things to make her feel like the most worthless and stupid person on the planet, but she knew deep down that her worth was priceless in the eyes of her God. I sometimes wonder why she didn’t leave. Why didn’t she just pack up her things and get the heck out of there. None of her friends would have thought less of her, they all knew what kind of man Nabal was. No woman deserves to be treated that way. If he was like that to his wife, imagine what he was like to any children they might have had! Today, in our society, no judge would have denied her a divorce, but yet she stayed.
            Perhaps she wanted to leave. Perhaps there were times when she would get down on her knees and ask and beg the Lord to free her from such a man. Perhaps the Lord asked her stay, not for her sake, but for his. Perhaps she was the only example of Christ he would ever see. Perhaps she was the one God would use to bring him back to the foot of the cross. Perhaps God needed her to be the shield and buckler for all the people that he had hurt throughout the years. Perhaps the Lord knew that this marriage, this hurt, and this pain would make her stronger; refine her into the priceless treasure He knew she was.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
            Abigail was a woman who feared the Lord. She knew that nothing she ever did or said would ever be good enough for the man she married. But her joy, her worth and her hope was not in him, it was in Christ Jesus her Lord. She didn’t look to her husband for favor or approval, she looked to God, whose favor is better than all the riches on this earth.
     How did Abigail do it? How did Abigail find the strength to remain day after day? She found it in Jesus Christ her Lord and blessed Savior. She found it in His work, His Word and His promises to her. She ran to Him and only Him. She was able to live it because she lived in Him.
            I want to state that in no way am I an advocate for any woman to stay yoked to an abusive husband. (Or husband to stay yoked to an abusive wife) I have had sisters in the Lord who have prayed for release from men like Nabal, and that release never came. But there have been some who have left, who have packed it up and God was with them as they walked out the door. My point is not to take a stand on whether or not you stay or you go. Just don’t sit on the sidelines of those Abigail’s in your life and judge her based on what you think she needs to do. Don’t judge those who choose to stay, who choose to pray for God to intervene in their husband’ lives, and who pray daily for the strength to remain. Only God knows why He asks some to stay and why He tells some to leave. Our role for these Abigail’s is to just be there for them, pray with them and help them run to the Lord God, the source and fountain of all their joy.

            Abigail’s life is a good example for all of us today. She is an example of what it means to stay strong in the midst of pain. She is an example of what it means to have joy despite our circumstances. She is the example of a woman in love with her God, fully and completely surrendered to His work and His will in her life. So don’t look down on the Abigail’s in your life. Look up to them and draw strength from them. When you find yourself asking how can you do it? Remember Abigail, know you can live through it because you live in Him. Amen.