Proverbs 31 has so much wisdom packed in it that we must give ourselves to combing through it slowly. (I have never seen an essay on womanhood that can touch Proverbs 31.) Today we will talk about verse 25b that says “she can laugh at the days to come.” Notice the writer didn’t say “smile”. Nor did the writer say “she can handle”. The writer said “she can laugh”. That is beyond cool.
I want you to sit and stew with me about that verse. What is it about this woman that she can “laugh” at the days to come? Isn’t that a remarkable sentence? A remarkable “word”? The following is all my opinion. I am going to give you several reasons I think she could “laugh at the days to come”. It is from meditating and thinking about this verse for years that I write the following. I invite you to share your opinion with me, as I’m sure there are many other opinions on this verse.
Do you know a woman with a “happy heart” that “can laugh at the days to come”? Isn’t she just delightful? Even her “hello” and voice lift your spirit. We all love these women and we must learn how to be one of them! (You want that, right?)
This Proverbs 31 woman is very busy and productive, yet she is not stressed and instead, she laughs. Being able to laugh is a measuring stick of your stress. No one is laughing when they are getting ready to hit the wall. I love how God cares about our stress (while few others do) and tells us that the wise woman learns to “laugh at the days to come”.
The first reason that the Proverbs 31 woman was able, in my opinion, to “laugh at the days to come” was because she understood that you can’t be ultra-stressed and laugh at the same time so she kept margins in her life. You can’t be scheduled to the brim and still “laugh at the days to come”. Sometimes, we have to say “no” to “good things” in order to say “yes” to the “right things” and that is a difficult thing to do (because we want people to like and respect us). In Virginia, when our six children were ten and under (I had a newborn and I was homeschooling), a gentleman from church called and asked if I would “take over the nursery and preschool department”. (Now that is an important job, I admit, but the need is not the call). When I declined, he was unpleasant and accusatory. Sometimes we think that these people in authority are the same as God. The nursery work was important but I was barely getting through my day and I knew (loudly confirmed by my husband) that I was not to take on that responsibility. After I declined, his wife then proceeded to tell me that I “needed to be more balanced” (although she was empty-nesting, only had two children, and both kids had gone to school!) Well, to be balanced and to handle my family at that season of life, I would have needed a 54-hour day. Don’t let others pressure you into something that is not of the Lord, however “holy” it seems.
I say this carefully, with fear and trembling, because I want you to hear from God and do His will. But Jesus says in Matthew 11 that His yoke (His will) is a “light and easy yoke”. When we are prayer-led, Scripture-led, and husband-led, we will better be able to know what to allow and what to reject. Just be warned that others will try to press you and tell you that their agenda is God’s will (at school, at church, at the charity, in the neighborhood, in your extended family, and in your social circles). Get clear on your calling and learn to graciously say “I’m so sorry, but I can’t right now; maybe in the future.” Your stress depends a lot on your ability to say no. Stressed women don’t “laugh at the days to come”. Don’t blame anyone else, either. It’s your job to learn to say no.
Secondly, I believe the Proverbs 31 woman could “laugh at the days to come” because she understood that whatever hardship would come, God would match it with His comfort to get her through the trial. My husband was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease last summer and there was a time that he could barely walk to the bathtub. (At one point, the doctor said his illness was life-threatening. But God has miraculously restored him for this season, so “high five”, PTL, thank You, dear God!) I still don’t remember how, but the peace that flowed into our lives during those eight weeks was remarkable. In fact, our lives grew richer after that experience. The grace showed up when we needed it. Our children were wonderful during this time. Friends showed up for visits. People brought food. Christians showed up to anoint David with oil for healing. It was an amazing time, in hindsight. I remember being downcast one day, sitting in front of Charlie’s Meat Market, talking on the phone with one of my best friends, Kendall. She said, “People can live happy lives with chronic illness.” I remember my shock at this statement. Why, my whole paradigm shifted. I went home and told David what she said. It was at this point that we changed how we viewed the illness and realized we could still have happy lives in the midst of it. God used that friend at our moment of need to give us grace.
God uses different strategies to bring comfort to our lives when we face difficult trials. But knowing that “the grace will come when difficult circumstances arise” helps us rest today and “laugh at the days to come”. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you.” However, God doesn’t give this grace until the very hour we need it. That’s why we fear hard things now…the grace isn’t there yet. I used to tell my husband how much fear I had about the possibility of losing a child. He would tell me, over and over again, that if it happened, the grace to handle it would show up. I believe the Proverbs 31 woman understood this principle that the grace will show up when you need it and this trust calmed her deepest fears and anxieties. Therefore she could deeply rest and “laugh at the days to come”.
I think of Amanda, a sweet girl in one of my prior groups. Amanda was given a precious baby with Down’s syndrome. At first, she was devastated. Later she said, “What we thought was the worst that could happen turned out to not be that bad.” What happened? Grace showed up. Grace will show up for you, too, when you need it. We must all learn to trust that the grace will show up.
Thirdly, I believe the Proverbs 31 woman knew how to take her problems to God in prayer and leave them on the shelf in heaven while He worked on them. It’s one thing to pray and leave our anxieties with God; it’s another to pray over them and then continue to stomp around in their little mud puddles.
Early in my Christian life, I did a Bible study on having a quiet time called 29:59 by Peter Lord. I remember a striking thing he said that has always stayed with me. He said his first job every day was to get his heart “happy in the Lord”. Wow. What a way to live! We are to get our hearts “happy in the Lord” and that means, learning to leave our burdens on the shelf in heaven.
We have to quarantine our negative thoughts. Once when David and I were dating, he broke up with me (actually, he broke up with me twice as I was quite the head case). I was devastated. I told God that I would not think about it, though, unless I was with Him in prayer. I “quarantined” the pain. Yes, God changed me in other ways and brought David back, but I learned early to pray and put it in God’s hands, and leave it there. We have to learn to leave our problems on the shelf in heaven, knowing that Somebody has plans to prosper us and not to harm us; that Someone has plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Believing the Jeremiah 29:11 concept that there is “a glad surprise around the river bend” is a great perspective to help grow happy hearts. (If you repeatedly struggle with discouragement, this is especially a huge concept for you. I recommend Jesus Calling to you.)
To balance the concept right before this, I now want to discuss the fourth reason the Proverbs 31 woman could “laugh at the days to come”. In my opinion, it was because she knew that she was very proactive. After David broke up with me, I got a new plan for my life. I was going to get a PhD in Marriage and Family Counseling. Obviously, God brought David back and we got married, but the point is, I didn’t sit around and sulk. I proactively made plans during the heartache to move on. I often wonder if the Proverbs 31 woman’s husband needed help with finances and that’s why she had so many home-based businesses. Maybe she proactively assisted her husband in business because he was having problems. Look at how the Proverbs 31 woman proactively made sure her home was well-provided for. Look at how she proactively took care of her beautiful clothes. This woman saw what needed to be done and by golly, she did it. No blaming. No self-pity, but a good work ethic to get things done. She knew she could bring this “work ethic” to whatever future trial she should encounter. As Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “pray like it all depended on God and work like it all depended on you”. This Proverbs 31 chick was pretty savvy.
Fifthly, I think this fab woman could “laugh at the days to come” because she wasn’t struggling with “insecurity or grandiosity”, those twin beasts which make us struggle with addictions (I warned you this was my opinion….) I think our Proverbs 31 girl had figured out two things. One, how valuable she was to God (remember how a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight?) And two, this woman had given up trying to be “a big shot” (there is such a clamoring in our hearts to be important instead of wanting to serve). This woman accepted herself, her lot, and her life. She wasn’t eaten up with feeling insignificant, with feeling “overlooked”, or eaten up with “self-pity”. She had figured out how to get emotional freedom. She had given up regrets. She had given up addictions, if there were any (no woman “can laugh at the days to come” if she’s battling an addiction such as alcohol, spending, prescription drug, or food). This smart woman had battled her pesky insecurities and her demanding entitlement issues in prayer, and she had won. Therefore, she could live each day with emotional freedom and joy. You simply can’t put a price tag on being able “to laugh at the days to come”. The best things in life are truly free.
The sixth reason I think this woman “could laugh at the days to come” is because she was free of her guilt. She had found forgiveness for all of her stupid, willful, mean, idiotic, dumb, and low thoughts, mistakes, and actions. And then, she lived a virtuous life, daily surrendered to God’s will (remember, when you lose your life, you truly find it, as the Bible says in Matthew 10:39). The freedom of “walking daily in the Spirit” and “living by the priorities that God has set out in His Word” is equal to the size of the Pacific Ocean. There is no freedom like this! Despair and depression come from living apart from God and His principles. No woman can be a happy song if she is making wrong choices or even if she is thinking wrong thoughts. Give up those foxes, “the little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (Song of Solomon 2:15), i.e., the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1). You know what your sin issue is. Let it go.
The seventh (and final, ha) principle I think this woman understood was that she could choose to use her one-of-a-kind creative genius/brilliance “gift” to bless others. I believe she found her “zone”, that area where she buzzed and fired on all cylinders. I believe each of us has a genius, a gift zone, an area of brilliance, and we are to fan it into flame. 2 Tim. 1:6 says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God.” Much of our boredom is because we are not in touch with our gifts. When we are not operating in our area of gifts, we are frustrated, bored, and are critical of others. You have a gift. Discover it, fan it into flame, and give it away to bless others and receive great joy yourself. Learning how to “enjoy giving away your genius” will change your daily enjoyment and will help you “laugh at the days to come”. (If you have little children, you will have to be very careful about “fanning into flame your gift” during this season of life. But even pursuing and growing your gift for thirty minutes during naptime can mean a lot to promoting your emotional health.)
As I said, these ideas were my “interpretation” of this Proverbs passage. I’m sure there are hundreds of other applications. I’d love to hear yours.