“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”

Proverbs 31:25


No doubt you’ve heard the song lyrics, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”, referring of course, to Christmas time.

However, that’s not the case for my family.  When my husband came into the kitchen singing that song recently, I learned that the most wonderful time of the year for him is the day of the Auto Show.  And as I’ve learned by my daughters’ anticipation and unprecedented early rising, the most wonderful time of the year for them is undoubtedly their school’s Track & Field day.  It’s fun.  It’s exciting.  And it’s an area in which God seems to have given them strength.  One of the interesting results of their yearly success has been a repeated recess event:  Plucky little guys, years their junior, challenging them to races.

Do you know what their involuntary response is to these young challengers?  (Before they lay a whoopin’ on them, of course…)

They laugh.

Oh, not because they’re mean.  Because they aren’t.  (They actually have quite a reputation at school for being kind to younger children.)  They laugh simply because, by virtue of their age and size, these boys are no threat.  There will be no contest.  There is no cause for anxiety.

That was the first image that came to mind when I began preparing this verse for our study.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”

The first half of this verse portrays the rare and celebrated woman we are studying in this series, all dolled up in strength and dignity.   Since we know we can’t walk out the door dressed only in our dignity, without being slapped with a civil misdemeanor, we know that this phrase is another example of that common biblical metaphor expressing how we present ourselves to the world.  An outward evidence of an inner reality.  As a result of Christ’s redeeming, restoring and beautifying work in her life, this woman carries herself with power and honour.  And tender women – don’t check out on me yet.  These qualities don’t discriminate by personality; in case you were thinking that.  Strength and splendor aren’t only reserved for extroverted women who can command a crowd.  I am friends with some gentle-spirited women who carry themselves with dignity and are some of the mightiest women I know.  Might and honour are one-size-fits-all apparel for any personality type.

However, I think a lot of women have missed the memo.

A sad reality I’ve observed, when we use the descriptor, “Proverbs 31 Woman”, is that this divinely-designed image of feminine strength & honour is not the first image that comes to most minds.  Admit it.  Some of us think subdued.  Mousy.  Unassertive.    Perhaps it’s time to recalibrate that image by the truth of scripture.

If the Bible describes this woman as mighty, powerful, splendid and majestic (which is exactly what the words “strength” and “dignity” convey, according to the original Hebrew), then there’s nothing weak or door-matty about this woman.  Nothing.  Honouring her hubby and joyfully fulfilling God’s priorities for her life – Yes.  But any woman who thinks she has to be mousy and subdued to fit God’s design for His women as we see it in Proverbs 31, hasn’t really understood the chapter she thinks she is personifying.  Or sadly, as is sometimes the case, she’s had her spirit squashed by an over-bearing-would-be-Christian-redneck-man who lauds the wife he has successfully oppressed, as a Proverbs 31 woman.  There couldn’t be any image further from the original intent or definition.

And if the message of the words “strong and dignified” aren’t enough to convince you that we are to be mighty women, watch what she does next:

“…she laughs at the time to come.”

You’ll love this:  The original word for “laughs” means to play, to mock or to laugh at, usually with contempt or derision.  Hence my opening example.  Like my Taylor and Avery toying with the panting lads by casually jogging alongside, this woman scoffs at the future because it causes her no fear.  It is no threat.  It holds no power over her.

“How can this be?!” Our terrified culture cries, wringing its hands.

Our context gives us two reasons.  The first is our personal practices.  Part of our anxiety is our own doing.  And that means we can undo it. As we’ve studied at length over the last few months, this woman employs every character strength and resource she’s got to manage and stabilize her life and family.  In doing so, she removes as much chaos and situational cause for anxiety as she can.  That’s extremely important and extremely helpful.  But that’s only the surface part of the fix.

The second, more important and foundational reason for her fearlessness is proper doctrine.  As we’ve eluded to and will explore more fully in a few weeks, if we desire to be excellent, we must pursue a right concept of God.  Having a right understanding of God makes us want to act in obedience to his perfect wisdom.  As we do that and find Him trustworthy, we automatically develop a logical confidence in the goodness of His designs for our life, be they pleasant or painful.  We will agree with Jerry Bridges that “Nothing is so small or trivial as to escape the attention of God’s sovereign control:  nothing is so great as to be beyond his power and control of it.”  How can a logical woman fear the future when God, who went to the furthest lengths possible to prove His love for her, holds it entirely in His control?

Friend, if you find that everyday life or the pending future fills you with fear, take this post as your encouragement to examine your personal practices and, more importantly, your concept of God.  As I’ve found to be true in my life, it’s a deficiency in one or the other that causes me to cower.   God has fashioned his women to be strong, dignified and fearless.  So let’s control what we can, to eliminate any self-induced causes of anxiety.  And then rest in the fact that God’s got the rest.

So line up those scrawny contenders of Fear, Anxiety and Insecurity.  Put your strong girl pants on.  And lay a good whoopin’ on them.

Laughing all the way.


  1. Hannah Hall

    Laughing at the days ahead has been on my mind constantly lately. I remember this verse and I remember God and it encourages me…and then I forget. I start watching too much news or caring too much about elections (don’t get me started…) and I forget God’s perfect, loving sovereignty. Oh, such a good reminder today, Janet. Thank you.

  2. Hannah Hall

    And I can’t wait to meet these girls of yours someday. They sound beautifully fearsome. 🙂

    • Janet

      Hopefully some day we’ll have a meeting of the clans – when we both sell enough books to comfortably fly down large families without needing to take out a second mortgage. 🙂

  3. Glen

    I remember walking down your driveway with your dad the morning before the wedding when he made this flattering statement, “Janet is like the mad dog at the end of the chain and you are the stake in the ground” Yep – no mice in our house.

  4. Heather Bock

    I love this picture! That’s exactly what fear of the future is–a scrawny contender. Whenever I do feel fear, and I remember God’s sovereignty, the weight of fear just lifts. So thankful He’s in control!

    • Janet

      Amen Mrs. Bock!


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