She Smiles Without Fear: Encouragement for Women in Ministry

Gain insight and encouragement for becoming a Proverbs 31 woman in the midst of the darkness.
7 min read

I had never experienced darkness like this.

I had heard about it—a darkness so thick that you couldn’t even make out your hand if you held it in front of your face. And since this seemed to be that kind of darkness, I tested it. I raised my hand and placed it inches in front of my eyes. Sure enough, I couldn’t see it.

Light Falling On Thoughtful Woman In Darkroom
Image Credit: Darja Kamenshchikova/EyeEm/Getty Images

Moments before, I had stood in a well-lit hallway just outside my boys’ bedroom. As our bedtime routine came to a close, I moved from room to room to say prayers and give goodnight hugs. Already, my boys snuggled in their beds as I approached their room.

I had expected the lights to be turned off and the room to be dark, but I hadn’t expected this. Though I stood in a familiar place doing a familiar thing, that kind of darkness startled me.                            

As I moved, something surprising happened. What once was thick, debilitating darkness became maneuverable. I couldn’t see well. I’m pretty sure I still stubbed my toe on a toy train or Lego, but I could see.

The longer I stayed, the more comfortable I grew in the darkness that had once blinded me.

My eyes had adjusted. Slowly, not surely, one-by-one I inched around the dark room and prayed with my boys.

And the longer I stayed, the more comfortable I grew in the darkness that had once blinded me.

She Laughs Without Fear

In Proverbs 31, we meet a woman who “is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25, NLT). The image of this woman who laughs without fear of the future is one that expresses freedom. The Hebrew word translated laughs in Proverbs 31:25 has also been translated frolic.[1]

When I hear that word, I can’t help but think of a little girl in pigtails skipping through a flowery meadow. She’s carefree and confident. Nothing weighs her down. With a smile on her face and a giggle in her heart, she laughs.

Smiling woman with family in background
Image Credit: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Can you think of the last time you frolicked? Something about growing up makes us trade the freedom of frolicking for a fear of the future.

Maybe we become more aware or more responsible. Or maybe we encounter an experience much like the night when I stepped out of the light and into the dark room. Something happens, possibly like the pandemic we’re currently experiencing, that shocks us into such darkness that we feel lost and blinded.

We’re consumed by the thickness of our situation and rendered paralyzed by what we’ve just experienced.

But the longer we live in it, the more adjusted we become. We inch our way around and grow more and more familiar with this new normal. Eventually, we forget there ever was a day or that we ever had walked in the light. We don’t look for it anymore. And we don’t long for it.

We simply manage in this altered state of life.

She Fears the Lord

While we aren’t given details of her past, present, or future, there is one verse that tells us all we need to know about how the Proverbs 31 woman can laugh without fear of the future, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

The woman in Proverbs 31 exchanges the fear of the future for the fear of the Lord. And if we want to laugh without fear of the future, we, too, need to exchange the fear of the future for the fear of the Lord.

To become women who laugh without fear of the future, we must first become women who fear the Lord.

Look at the chart below and consider each exchange that takes place when we replace the fear of the future with the fear of the Lord. Ask God to show you some examples in your own life.

Fear of the future …Fear of the LORD …
Says I’m in chargeSays God is in charge
Focuses on the problemFocuses on who God is
Forces me to feel prepared for anythingTrusts God to give me what I need when I need it
Lives distracted by the futureLives faithful today
Clings and controlsReleases and rests

As a woman who fears the Lord, the Proverbs 31 woman submits her life to God and finds assurance in God’s authority. She worships Him, receives rest in Him, and places security in Him alone. To become women who laugh without fear of the future, we must first become women who fear the Lord.

Deuteronomy 10 Insight

For some practical ways to help us live out the fear of the Lord, let’s read a few verses from Deuteronomy.

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways,
to love him, to serve the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the
commandments and statutes of the Lord,
which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12–13)

First, God Says to Walk in All His Ways

Girl hugging and kissing happy mother
Image Credit: Oliver Rossi/Stone/Getty Images

The idea of walking in God’s ways implies regularity. In Old Testament times people walked more than we do today. It was their primary form of transportation. When Moses delivered this message from the Lord to the nation of Israel, they had just walked with God through the wilderness.

The instruction to walk in all of God’s ways means we are to do it consistently, every day in every way.

Second, We’re Instructed to Love God

The word love is thrown around in our world today so much that it can be hard to truly understand what it means. The Hebrew word translated love in this verse is ahab, which is defined as: “to desire, to breathe after.”[2] The Bible tells us that real love isn’t our love for God, but His love for us—that He loved us and sent Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins.[3]

God is love and is our perfect example of love.

The outward expression of our love for God is to walk in His ways and keep His commandments. Basically, the other three things on this list happen if we love God.

Practice the Fear of the Lord as You Serve God with All of Your Heart and All of Your Soul

Matthew 6:24 says, “‘No one can serve two masters.’” Jesus elaborates with very distinct contrasts saying, “‘for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.’”

The Amplified Bible notes that the Greek word for money can extend to “possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord.”

And Finally, God Tells Us to Keep His Commandments

The definition for the word keep in this verse is the idea of guarding and watching out for God’s commandments the same way we would watch out for weeds in a garden. This is not the picture of a halfhearted attempt to do right. Instead, it urges us to place God’s Word as a priority in our lives so that we are careful to obey all that is written in it.

She Is in Awe of God

At its core, the fear of the Lord is an expression of worship—a deep awe of who God is. The fear of the Lord lives in our heart when we are so humbled by God’s holiness that our natural response is to give Him our whole life.

When we see God as He truly is, we will see ourselves as we truly are and will have no other option but to fall at God’s feet and present ourselves as living sacrifices.

At its core, the fear of the Lord is an expression of worship—a deep awe of who God is.

Maybe you feel that sense of awe today and maybe you don’t. Either way, I hope you begin to crave it more and more.

No matter where you are with this, you can always cry out to God and ask, “Help me love You more. Help me know You more. Give me an awe for who You are.”


13 Very Famous Friends and How Jesus Loved Them cover

13 Very Famous Friends and How Jesus Loved Them

Help kids discover the faith-building, life-changing love of Jesus tucked into 13 stories of Jesus’s famous friends and how He loved them. They will begin to understand what it means to love one another as Jesus did.
Free Lesson
13 Very Famous Friends and How Jesus Loved Them cover

13 Very Famous Friends and How Jesus Loved Them

Help kids discover the faith-building, life-changing love of Jesus tucked into 13 stories of Jesus’s famous friends and how He loved them. They will begin to understand what it means to love one another as Jesus did.
Free Lesson
13 Very Famous Friends and How Jesus Loved Them cover

13 Very Famous Friends and How Jesus Loved Them

Help kids discover the faith-building, life-changing love of Jesus tucked into 13 stories of Jesus’s famous friends and how He loved them. They will begin to understand what it means to love one another as Jesus did.
Free Lesson

[1] Edward W. Goodrick & John R. Kohlenberger III, NIV Exhaustive Concordance, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), pg. 1493.

2 “H157—’ahab—Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (ESV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 16 Dec, 2019. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H157&t=ESV

3 1 John 4:10

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  Updated on May 18, 2020

About the Author

  • Katy McCown is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ First 5 writing team and founder of the She Laughs Conference. Katy left her job as a television news reporter to join her husband, Luke, on their adventure in the National Football League. Thirteen years, six kids and five teams later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Along the way, Katy has learned even when God’s path seems to sideline our plans, it never sidelines our purpose. The everyday Katy loves a strong cup of coffee (or two) and her car is never clean. Never ever. David C Cook will be releasing Katy’s new Bible study, She Smiles Without Fear: Proverbs 31 for Every Woman, in early 2021. Connect with Katy at katymccown.com.

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