Our internet service came to a screeching halt Wednesday evening, and when I set out to work Thursday morning, still nothing. My husband called our service provider three times and received three different answers: it was an outage in the area, there was a problem with our line, our modem wasn’t working. We tried to solve the one problem we could do anything about and bought a new $150 modem/router. When we tried to connect, nothing.
Thursday morning, I called to have a hotspot installed on my cellphone; my wireless provider had system issues, too, and couldn’t help me for another hour or two. The customer service representative suggested I try getting online using my smart phone and order the service there. The website was down. I started laughing to avoid crying.
I almost couldn’t go on. I was starting to freak out. How could a person survive in these torturous conditions?
Then, I picked up Michelle DeRusha’s latest book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. I read a few chapters, and true to the subheading, these heroines of the faith taught me a few things—or at least reminded me. Like how being without internet service doesn’t exactly add up to suffering. But also how fear and doubt and unreasonableness aren’t instantly eradicated in a life of faith. And they certainly aren’t unique to me.
50 Women provides short vignettes of Christian heroines across 11 decades and multiple continents. The book would have seemed incomplete without Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, Susanna Wesley, Lottie Moon, Corrie Ten Boom, and Dorothy Sayers. And they are all in there, along with other well-known women of the faith like Hannah Whitall Smith, Amy Carmichael, Ruth Bell Graham, and a personal favorite, Madeleine L’Engle. But the book also includes brief bios of other mothers and sisters I was less familiar with, like Saint Birgitta, Jarena Lee, Pandita Ramabai, and Gladys Aylward.
I haven’t read all of the stories yet–50 lives are a lot to absorb–but of the ones I have read, not only do these women themselves stand out as models of faithfulness, but also their families, and particularly some of the men in their lives—fathers, brothers, friends—who offered education and opportunity to these heroines during times when women were otherwise denied those “luxuries.”
So, I am making my way through the list of 50 by picking and choosing from throughout the book, crossing off the numbers written on my little notecard as I read each chapter. Though the chapters are arranged chronologically, I find mixing them up gives me a greater sense of God’s providence and helps me understand the extraordinary obstacles women of every color and nation and age have had to overcome. The chapters are short enough to read one or two a day, the length of them a testament to the disciplined skill of the author, who likely could have written an entire book on each woman but narrowed them down to manageable introductions. Rather than satisfy my curiosity, the book moves me to look deeper and get to know the women more. And Michelle offers end notes with resources to do just that.
Yesterday, as I stewed in my frustration over a disconnected internet, I read the chapter of Hannah Whitall Smith, a 19th century author, preacher, and theologian. She endured the deaths of several of her children, the institutionalization of her husband, the scorn of her father, and the ravaging of her own depression. Her life was a disappointment in many ways. Yet in her last book near the end of her life, her final words were simply—and still—this: “God is enough! God is enough for time. God is enough for eternity. God is enough!”
As I read, I knew those words were true for me, too.
WORD COUNT: 625
AUTHOR: Michelle DeRusha
TITLE: 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Heroines of the Faith
WHERE TO GET IT: Follow the link above to order it from Amazon, or to help celebrate Michelle’s book launch, I have an extra copy of her book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know, to give away in the next few days. Everyone who leaves a comment on this post or signs up to receive my blog in their email inbox through noon on Thursday, October 9, will be registered to win. The winner will be announced next Fridy, October 10, and I will contact the winner as soon as possible for shipping information.
Photos provided by Michelle DeRusha.
*This website uses “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Also, I received a complimentary preview copy of Michelle’s book, but any endorsements, reviews, or comments about the book are my own opinion and were not influenced by the author.