The United Nations designates March 8, as an International Women’s Day. It is held every year in order to recognize the various achievements of women in different parts of the globe in the past, as well as in our current time. It is a day to celebrate women’s successes in society, regardless of ranks, races, or languages. The UN also dubs this event as, “Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.” The initial observance of Women’s Day, named “National Woman’s Day,” can be traced back to New York City when Theresa Malkiel, headed and organized the Socialist Party of America on February 28, 1909.
This year 2021’s celebration of International Women’s Day, the United Nations proclaims this apt theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” This concept highlights the remarkable works of “women and even girls in the entire world who help shape a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This subject aligns with the main concern of the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women,
Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and the flagship Generation Equality campaign, which calls for women’s right to decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end all forms of violence against women and girls, and health-care services that respond to their needs.
In the past, many women stayed at home to raise children and care for them. However, with the passage of time, women’s roles have expanded so much. Women today are no longer confined at home. Instead, they move out into society to become leaders in their spheres outside the home. They lead and inspire other women convincing them, that there is something they can do in their own domain. With this, some women have left an indelible legacy in the history of the world. One such woman is Florence Nightingale. Born in Italy in 1920, Florence dedicated her life to helping others by becoming a war-hero nurse. Her service changed the quality of healthcare and impacted the world. That is such a remarkable legacy to offer.
Although women were mostly left anonymous in ancient times, the Bible names women who were influential and even inspire women today. Though the events happened more than 2000 years ago, their bells of legacy still ring at present. Let us have a glimpse of the lives of four of these beautiful women in the Bible.
Hannah—a woman who employed prayer instead of revenge
Hannah was married to Elkanah, a godly man who was the grandson of Elihu. During their time, people practiced polygamy. So Hannah had a rival with Elkanah in the person of Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not, “because the Lord has closed her womb” (1 Sam. 1:5). Elkanah loved Hannah despite the fact that she could not have children, but her rival Peninnah bullied her often, to the point that she would cry bitterly. Ellen White considered this as Satan’s attempt to destroy Hannah, one of God’s faithful servants (ST Oct. 27, 1881).
However, Hannah never retaliated. She did not react negatively to Peninnah. Instead, to combat her greatest challenge in life, she resorted to prayer. She pleaded to God to be merciful to her and give her a son. This special request from Hannah touched the Lord’s heart, and He honored her prayer. God reopened her womb that He has closed and Hannah gave birth to a son named, Samuel (1 Samuel 1:10-20). Hannah bequeaths to us an enduring legacy—the legacy of the power of prayer.
Rahab—a woman who acted in faith to pave the Messiah’s birth
Known only to most of us, as a prostitute, the name Rahab creates a negative impression on many Christian minds. Her biography perhaps is not as impressive as the other women of the Bible. But her faith demonstrates one who believes in Someone greater than herself. She not only radiated confidence that Palestine belonged to God and to his people the Israelites, but she also expressed that there is something special about Israel’s God. Although a heathen, Rahab had the knowledge about the Red Sea event (Joshua 2:10). She was aware of what God could do for people. This is evident when she declared, “For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below”(Joshua 2:11, NLT).
It would have been so easy for Rahab to be cynical about the coming assault that she heard. Like others, she could have said, “Well, their god is more powerful than our god.” But no, Rahab thought beyond. She acted in faith. “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:31, NIV). Rahab’s faith produced obedience. James adds, “And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?”(James 2:25, ESV). Her works prove her faith and save her family. Rahab offers us a lasting legacy—a legacy of belief in a foreign but true God. And this belief led to the birth of the world’s Redeemer and Messiah.
Esther—a woman who chose bravery to save not just a sundry, but a Savior
In a “beauty pageant” of sorts for King Xerxes along with other maidens, Hadassah (Esther) was chosen. But then, an evil court officer, Haman, plotted to have all the Jews exterminated. But Mordecai, Esther’s uncle who adopted her, persuaded her to see King Xerxes and tell him the truth. “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NLT). Esther requested the king for a banquet that would include Haman. The tables reversed when Haman was hanged on the gallows supposedly meant for Mordecai. With the king’s approval, Mordecai takes Haman’s position in the royal government (Esther chapters 3-7).
Esther, silent for a time, came out of her shell to save the Jewish people who were set to die according to the Persian King’s decree. Esther never had an ounce of hesitation. She sealed her decision with fasting and prayer. Esther chose bravery to save many lives in her country. And this decision prompted her to assert, “I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die”(Esther 4:16, NLT). Esther not only saved the Jewish people from destruction, but she protected the line of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Esther leaves us the most memorable legacy—a legacy of bravery to save not only many lives, but the lineage of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Abigail–a woman who used brain and beauty for God’s glory
The Bible describes Abigail as a woman of brain and beauty (1 Samuel 25:3, NLT). These characteristics are a stark contrast and mismatch to her husband Nabal, a wealthy man, but whose personality is defined in the same verse, as crude and mean (1 Samuel 25:3, NLT).
When Nabal insulted David via his trusted men whom he had sent in good intention, Nabal’s words deeply hurt David. His statements enraged David and impelled him to kill Nabal immediately. Drawing out his sword with his men, David vowed to eradicate Nabal that very moment, and he meant it. Abigail on the other hand, after learning what happened through a servant, saw a great danger ahead. Not wasting a single moment, she decided to see David personally to appease her husband’s misdemeanor. Unknown to Nabal, Abigail with her servants and some goodies, went to meet David. On the road, however, Abigail met David and his men. Abigail right there and then, delivered an impromptu speech in front of him and his men. That persuasive speech changed David’s mind resulting in altering his plan to slay Nabal and his men. Abigail’s action, not only saved her husband and all their relatives from being slaughtered, but she also prevented David from committing murder as God’s anointed king (1 Samuel 25:10-25). Thus, Abigail left a legacy for women to follow—a legacy demonstrating the use of brain and beauty for God’s glory.
Friends, it is so tempting to be called a woman or person of beauty, isn’t it? But wait! What would you like to bequeath to the next generation who is after you? What would you like to leave them to remember your shadow or your footsteps? What do you want your friends and loved ones to think of you when you are out of their sight? A biblical author, who was a lover of beautiful women leaves us this answer to reflect on, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised” (Proverbs 31:30, NLT).