When God said, “It’s not good for the man to be alone,” he added, “I will make a helper.” That word is actually the Hebrew word ezer. Historically, we’ve narrowed the word ezer to mean wife and mother, to indicate that a woman’s role is to take on supportive duties for the husband. But when God declared that, they were in Eden. The man didn’t have a house, laundry, or meals that needed to be prepared. So what is she helping him with?
The Garden of Eden was a military context because there was an enemy planning an attack. And man and woman were created to rule and subdue. Adam was commanded to guard the garden. That’s military language.
When God said it wasn’t good for the man to be alone, that was a blanket statement and not just about marriage. Genesis 1 and 2 are passages about God’s vision for the world, for humanity. God created the woman to come alongside him in this battle. She watches his back; he watches her back. They’re supposed to be in this battle together. Well, she can’t come along as a dependent, because then she’s not a help; she’s more work if he has to think for her and take care of her and protect her.
African women are guardians of their children’s welfare and have explicit responsibility to provide for them materially. They are the household managers, providing food, nutrition, water, health, education, and family planning to an extent greater than elsewhere in the developing world. This places heavy burdens on them, despite developments such as improved agriculture technology, availability of contraception, and changes in women’s socioeconomic status, which one might think would have made their lives easier. In fact, it would be fair to say that their workload has increased with the changing economic and social situation in Africa. Women’s economic capabilities, and in particular their ability to manage family welfare, are being threatened. ‘Modernization’ has shifted the balance of advantage against women. The legal framework and the modern social sector and producer services developed by the independent African countries have not served women well.
Most African women, in common with women all over the world, face a variety of legal, economic and social constraints. Indeed some laws still treat them as minors. Some laws relegate them to the back seat, tie their hands and leaves them helpless. Many of them have been battered, abused, broken, rejected, dejected, made slaves in their own homes, some have been told they are not good enough, reduced to nothing and many constantly live in fear of both the known and the unknown.
Women know they’re fighting battles. They fight battles with and for themselves; they fight battles for their children or neighbours or communities. They know they’re warriors. And it’s good that they’re warriors with the men, not against the men. That’s very powerful.
“How many women in Africa know they are powerful warrior”
African women was raised to believe you get married and have babies, but that is not all that they were created for. And they aren’t given much alternatives.( Especially when they are involved in abusive marriages). Nobody comes to them and say, “What does God want you to do with your life?”
Too often in the church we feel sorry for women who have careers and aren’t doing the domestic family thing. I don’t diminish that at all, but when we crown that as God’s primary and ultimate calling for women, we create a dilemma for women who don’t marry or who don’t have children. We don’t allow for the realities or diversities of women’s lives.
Then inevitably, we block out major portions of our lives when we’re not married and don’t have kids. It’s as if we’re waiting for God’s purpose rather than looking for his purpose right now
Let’s take a look at Ruth. Ruth was with this awesome man, Boaz, but she was leading, taking the initiative. And God blessed her for it. But in the church we don’t teach women the truth about stories like this. Instead we make it a sweet girl gets guy and lives happily ever after story. And it’s not that at all.
We should be digging down into the meat of those stories and teaching about what these women were actually doing. Too often the message we hear is to trust God more and to be better in our devotional life. Nobody’s calling us out. Nobody’s saying, “You have gifts that God has given you especially when it doesn’t conform to the norms and traditions of the land. God has strategically placed you where you are and you’re on a mission for him, and as his image bearer you represent him, you speak for him. You are his voice, his eyes, his ears, his hands.” It makes every woman’s life significant.
As a woman,there are situations where I need to show more courage, where I need to step out and take a stand, where I need to speak up because kingdom issues are at stake, values are at stake. Not because I need to elbow my way into some position of importance, but because something big is going on in this world and I get to be part of that.
I don’t think that comes easily when you’ve been conditioned to back away and not speak up. So it creates some battles within me because every once in a while I get confronted with a situation where the easy path is more appealing. I have to ask myself, Is this what God wants me to do? and take that harder route.
African woman…we need to be armed for this battle and realise that the battle isn’t against people, against families, against society, against religion, against our children, or against the cultures and traditions of our land; “it’s for them”. We’re all called to be warriors for the kingdom. We’re all called to be representatives of God in this world, to speak and act for him.
If what I’m saying is true, that you are God’s image bearer and that you’re a warrior and that God created men and women to be his A team, to get the kingdom built, then let’s get on board and drive….
You may never have the significance that others recognise, but look at Ruth and Naomi and the huge things that were going on in their little world. You never know. “You might be the one.