Smiling at the Future

“She smiles at the future"
Proverbs 31:25b
I've got to admit, early on in my spiritual journey (and immaturity), I used to wonder if and how I was supposed to apply the last chapter of proverbs to my life when so much of it specifically describes the characteristics of an industrious and virtuous woman. For one thing, I'm not a wife or a woman. Moreover, the description of this woman seems like an impossible checklist and standard for anyone to try and measure up to.

One thing that helped me was the day I learned from a Hebrew commentator that the valiant or excellent wife described in Proverbs 31 can also be taken as a metaphor for the Christian church—the bride of Christ, which includes all of God's people. All of Scripture is essentially pointing us to Jesus and the realities of the New Covenant, and Proverbs 31 is no exception. In Christ, all of God's people are his bride who can “smile at the future.”

But how is that possible when we can’t know our immediate future? The impossible becomes possible because we know the One who does know it, the One who goes before us into it, and the One who promises to be with us and care for us in every future moment. We can smile at the future because by faith we see God there. Even though we can’t know what will happen, we know the One who will be right there with us and always for us when it does happen—the One called Father, Savior, Husband, and Friend. As the old adage goes, "We don't know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future." God has promised to be abundantly present in my future, and I smile when I think of him there.

If we read the end of Proverbs 31 as a long "To-Do List" relegated only to women, then we can find it either irrelevant or just exhausting. But if we read it as a poetic way of describing the "excellent wife" that Christ has found by his grace and the people he is making us to be, then we can see each virtue as the relevant fruit that the Spirit is working to produce in each of our lives.

God of the past, present, and future, help me to trust in your good plan and in your faithful presence when it comes to all my tomorrows. Help me to seize the day today by not worrying about the future, but giving it a smile because I see you in it. Amen.
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