Part 1 of the “Titus 2 ministry for women” blog series looked at God's call for older women to mentor younger women, based on Titus 2:3-5. In Part 2 of the series, I shared several examples of how godly women have poured into me. Here in Part 3, the emphasis is on the necessity to bear our cross in order to fulfill the Titus 2 ministry given to us by the Lord, and how this self-denial produces glorious joy in Christ.
“Suffering is having what you don't want or wanting what you don't have.”
O what a glorious calling, dear sisters! What a wonderful ministry is laid out in Titus 2:3-5 for older women both to teach and demonstrate for younger women to lay down their lives for Him who first laid down His on their behalf! But unfortunately, many older women have not only forgotten their story of redemption, but they have also forgotten the blessing of passing it on.
We can tell from Scripture that seasoned women of God are called to be storytellers - called to tell the story of the great King! For instance, Samuel's mother Hannah recounted God's saving acts (1 Sam. 2:1-10). Timothy's grandmother Lois and mother Eunice retold the salvation story to him as a child, which led to his faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:5, 3:15).
Younger women worldwide are crying out for mentors like the older women mentioned above. They are eager to be taught how to keep their gaze on the Old Rugged Cross, in a world of hostility and temptation. Indeed - it can be a harsh, depressing, and fearful world, and the message of the world to younger women is to despise the kind of cross-bearing that is required to live out the Titus 2 calling "to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be reviled."
It seems that in our present culture, the more you grumble at life, the more people favor you. Complaining is popular, while persevering through suffering is scarce. Therefore, the best selling books for women are those that focus on finding happiness within yourself (i.e., self-love!). In reality, true joy is only found when you lose your life and find your all in Christ (Luke 9:24). Outside of Christ, there is no hope in suffering, just constant pain.
Maybe all this grumbling is what leads scores of women to join in the cries of resistance and revolution against all forms of authority: a redefining of womanhood. Or, rather, a deconstruction of womanhood in which the Biblical model of male leadership is deemed “patriarchal oppression” or labeled as “toxic masculinity.” The Biblical pattern for the family, led by the husband and father, is rejected by "progressive" feminism (which is not a progression, but a degression unto destruction). This modern form of feminism is not just an attack against male leadership, but an attack against the Titus 2 ministry, against Biblical womanhood and Biblical sexuality, against homemakers, and ultimately against the Lord himself.
What origin does this new womanhood derive from? If it's beginning starts with the woman herself, then good mercy, we have attempted to rob authority from God and bestow it upon a creature. This is no longer a woman, because the true definition of who she is and how she functions must originate from God himself. No, this is nothing but a mere beast. This new age of womanhood, therefore, is not godly, but Satanic. "This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic." (James 3:15). She is not reflecting God’s character, but that of the Serpent. Despising the image of God that Eve was created in, "the craftiest of the beasts" (Gen. 3:1) sought to make Adam and Eve like himself! When king Nebuchadnezzar puffed his chest at God and declared himself the ruler of the world, what was the result? God showed him his beastliness by reducing him to an animal-like creature eating grass (Dan. 4:28-33).
Is this what we want, to become wrecking balls, destroying everything that threatens our false image? Some older women have long given up and turned away, fed up with this age of resistance. Everyone is busy. No one bothers to talk anymore. Creative ideas are no longer shared among sisters in Christ. Not even things cherished like art, Scripture reading, fellowship, laughs, book exchanges, deep theological conversations, birth stories, marriage struggles, joys, and singleness. Some older women have become jealous of the autonomy and the “success of the younger generation” and even covet the same things. Sadly, many women have just thrown in the towel in defeat. It seems that worshiping the golden calf of self feels good to the flesh because it promises to grant instant happiness and comfort in this wilderness journey. Meanwhile, this habitual devotion to self cultivates a heart of bitterness towards people, spouses, children -- and ultimately toward God -- resulting in a demanding attitude that resembles a toddler.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5). How great is the Father’s love for us in Christ to not leave us in this downward spiral of destruction! God will not allow you to wallow in the pool of despondency. You were bought with the precious blood of Christ, therefore he must - YES - he will conform you to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29)! Which means: self must die. And the good news is, “our old self was crucified together with him, in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6). “I have been crucified together with Christ! It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). The Lord will enable us to continue to put off the old ways of the flesh, since Jesus already put off the body of the flesh at the cross (Col. 2:11)!
There are scores of older women who are on their knees longing to walk alongside younger women whom they consider fellow pilgrims in the faith. I have met a few beautiful souls here on earth in different seasons of my life. Many are not popular and could care less about being known by millions. But their lives speak volumes to many who meet them. Some are suffering with all kinds of ailments and have experienced great trials, but you would never hear their grumbles - just gratitude. I can hear them all say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” I am reminded by a quote from Richard Baxter that says, “Suffering so unbolts the heart that the Word has an easier entrance.”
Some of these older women have gone on to be with the LORD years ago, but have left us with a great legacy that was written in books and stories that were retold from their disciples for us who are left. One thing that has echoed time and time again is that these women's greatest passion was for younger women to rejoice in their suffering because this is when the Word of God shines bright. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Pt. 4:12-13).
When will Christ reveal his glory? At his return from heaven. But in the meantime, He reveals foretastes and glimpses of his glory when you surrender to his will. There are opportunities for this joyful surrender to occur every second and moment of your life until the final day when he reveals His glory to the world. The joyful surrender of Christ is seen in the mundane things, and through the darkest valleys. Suffering trains us to know his glory. Just as Christ was trained throughout his life, especially when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, so it is with us:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. (Hebrews 5:8-9)
Jesus became the first fruits of all who will follow him - including you and me. When you are tested, heaven's peace comes upon your soul and the eyes of your hearts see him afresh. He reminds you that he is Emmanuel. He is a fire by night and a cloud that leads you in the path by day. He is training you to hear his voice - to know it intimately. To remind you that you do not live on bread alone, but every Word that comes from the mouth of God. To remind you that your kingdom is not of this world but with your Heavenly Father. To encourage you that the tree of life is Christ himself, therefore abide in him. When you begin to know your Father's voice - based on His Word - you will discern the lies of the enemy.
To teach a younger woman to despise suffering is to rob her of the extraordinary worth of knowing the beauty and faithfulness of her Father, and it robs God of his glory.
Instead older women, train younger women and teach them to be acquainted with suffering. Allow them the privilege of learning to cry out to a gracious Father who is listening and considers her tears to be sweet incense. Do not coddle her; but make room for her to groan to her High Priest who intercedes for her daily. Train her to bow to the King, and worship him together. Sufferings are God's decree for her and for you. But that is not all he has decreed:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)