Courageous stories to remember on International Women’s Day
Written by Marina Hofman
With International Women’s Day on March 8, we pause to reflect on the acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who played an extraordinary role in history. Who better to celebrate than the women of the Bible?
Here is a shout-out to two of my favourite women of the Bible.
Hannah in 1 Samuel
At the time Hannah lived, Judge 21 says everyone did what they felt was right and what seemed right; society was far from God. Yet, during this time, Hannah was faithful to God. She faced infertility, a situation without remedy that affected her deeply.
How did Hannah respond? She presented her pain to God in earnest prayer. After pouring out her heart, Hannah “went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast” (1 Samuel 1:18). Hannah put her faith in God’s ability to work a miracle for her before it was possible.
Hannah demonstrates that we can trust God with our painful situations and challenges—and we can move forward in faith and let God carry our burdens. We can trust God despite every situation that seems impossible, and like Hannah, we can be faithful amid the challenges we face—committing everything to God in prayer.
And what was Hannah’s legacy? Her example of godliness was passed on to her miracle child, Samuel, who followed her example and became a man of prayer and witnessed God working mightily in his life.
So, we can look at Hannah to see how she chose a different path than those around her by having faith in God and praying and how it bore great fruit in her life and the life of her son, Samuel.
Rahab in the book of Joshua
Rahab was a woman who overcame social, economic, and cultural barriers. She was a prostitute and not an Israelite; in the eyes of the ancient world, she was insignificant.
But Rahab, even though she lived in a pagan nation, knew about God of Israel and what that God had done for the people of Israel. She had insight into what God was about to do. And so, when the spies of Israel came to her home, Rahab was equipped to talk theologically about God and speak prophetically to announce that God was about to have victory for Israel. Her speech convinced the spies, and when her report was brought to Joshua, it became the impetus for him to lead the people forward.
This is unexpected and remarkable. Rahab was bold—even though her friends, family, and community weren’t following God. She was unafraid to declare her allegiance to the God of Israel.
Rahab’s story is one of great courage and an example of how God works through those who are willing. It reminds us that God uses whatever skills and resources we have to speak truth into the darkness if we are willing to answer the Lord’s call to speak boldly of who God is and what God has done.
You and me!
As I reflect on the women in the Bible, I note how many times their great courage was expressed by the willingness to do the ordinary in times of crisis and how God used their obedience to accomplish the extraordinary. That gives me hope because I am an ordinary person at best. I faced immense limitations after I suffered multiple injuries from a car wreck. Yet God took the broken pieces of my life and used my story to inspire hundreds of thousands of people. Simply because I was willing to share my story. God did the rest.
Many of my female friends have made a much greater impact. They’ve raised godly children with patience and kindness; they’ve stood up for others in hostile workplaces; they’ve reached out to the people on the social outskirts of their communities; they’ve been a voice of truth when everyone mocked them and tried to silence them. They were a light for Christ in the darkness.
So be encouraged on this day of celebrating women—you are worthy of celebration! As C.S. Lewis said in his 1942 sermon, “The Weight of Glory,” God delights in you “as an artist delights in his work”! Thank you for every courageous act you’ve done, every time you’ve stood for truth and life, every person you’ve impacted for Christ.
Marina Hofman, PhD is author of the award-winning Women in the Bible Small Group Bible Study and video series. Find her work at womeninthebible.info