“For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” 1 Peter 3:5-6
In my last blog post I wrote about meekness in marriage. I drew from 1 Peter 3: 3-4. In those verses we read that a gentle (meek) and quiet spirit is precious in the side of God. Before and after those verses Peter writes about submission. He directs his comments to Christian wives and instructs them to adorn themselves with godly submission and behavior just as Sarah and the holy women did in the past. Appearing within these verses is a very important phrase. I believe it has a lot to do with why Sarah and the women of old were able to live as they did. In verse 5 we read that they “hoped in God.” I also believe this is something we need to do today in order to do what is right without fear. (verse 6)
The Greek word for hope in verse 5 is elpizo. Strong’s Greek Dictionary gives this definition: “to expect or confide: – (have, thing) hope (-d) (for), trust.” Seeing the word trust in the definition sits well with me as trust is exactly what I think about when I read verse 5. I imagine that their love for God motivated them to live godly lives, and their trust in him helped them in their submission. I believe they knew their lives and circumstances were in God’s hands, and they expected his help because he is just and loving and merciful.
Like these women of old, we can do right without being frightened by any fear because of our hope in God. I don’t think this means that we don’t ever feel afraid, but that we move forward in obedience anyway despite our circumstances and find courage because we believe that God will provide. He has not changed. He is still trustworthy and sovereign and filled with lovingkindness. He cares for us and promises us the same things. He can provide for us as he did for them even when we face situations that might frighten us. (verse 6)
When Peter wrote about fear interfering with doing right, it is likely that he had submission in mind. I have noticed both in my own life and in the lives of other women that fear sometimes interferes with submission. We tend to view it as risky. For some reason we believe that if we retain the final say things will be ok; but if we submit to the leadership of our husbands, things will definitely go wrong. My husband helped me see that I thought this way. I wasn’t consciously thinking it, but I definitely believed it. I was arrogant without realizing it. I’m happy to say that I’ve learned some humility and that my husband is quite capable of leading with love and consideration.
Though most husbands are also capable of leading that way, it’s not too hard to understand why a wife might sometimes be afraid to submit in situations when she disagrees with her husband or feels he might not be a good leader. She might worry that her submission will lead to something bad happening. In these moments, well in all moments, the best response is obedience to God through faith that he will provide. Our hope in him must be greater than our circumstances otherwise we might find it very difficult to do what is right. I understand that can be difficult sometimes. I hope to write more specifically about this in the future, but right now I wish to offer encouragement to look to God and not at our circumstances. He cares for us, and he is able to give us the strength and grace that we need to respond in obedience to him. Through that response, we glorify him. That is no small thing.
Strong in Hope
If you are in a situation that you view as risky yet wish to respond with obedience to God and submit to your husband, I pray that you place your hope in God. Seek to be strong in hope by placing your hope in the One who is able to provide for you. Turn to his word for encouragement and believe what is written. Pray to him for help. On the subject of prayer and hope we can learn from the widow that Paul wrote about in 1 Timothy.
“Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.” 1 Timothy 5:3-5
Notice that the widow indeed fixed her hope on God and had the practice of pleading and praying night and day. We can benefit by imitating her example. We can confidently draw near to the throne of grace and receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) God knows what we need (Matthew 6:8), and he works all things for good for us. (Romans 8:28) We can take comfort in the fact that he hears us if we ask anything according to his will. (1 John 5:14-15) When you pray, please don’t forget to pray for your husband. Pray that the Lord will give him wisdom, that his heart will seek the Lord’s will, and that he will make good decisions for you, for your family, and for the glory of God. Try to develop the habit of praying for your husband in this way daily, not just when there is an immediate need. Pray also that you may do whatever is possible to support your husband as you leave your situations in God’s capable hands. I believe your hope and trust in our Lord will be met with mercy and grace. He is our hope.
Additional verses about hope in God
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.”
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” Psalms 43:5
“My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalms 62:5-8
“For You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth.” Psalms 71:5
“Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O LORD our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.” Jeremiah 14:22
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope;” 1 Timothy 1:1
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:17
“For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:20-21
All scripture verses are from the New American Standard Bible © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation