Shiprah and Puah—I hadn’t heard of these two women till today. Or it’s likely that I might have heard of them but didn’t really pay attention or think much of them. But here’s the deal—when God decides to speak to us, He uses the unheard of people, those we don’t really pay attention to!
So, here’s when it all started! I began to study Exodus and couldn’t go past chapter one. This story had me arrested (Exo 1: 15-20):
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
Here are these women who didn’t—or rather couldn’t—have families of their own, and whose profession involved helping other women start families of their own. I can only imagine the pain they might have experienced each time they helped a women deliver a baby.
Often God calls us to serve in the very areas we lack in. He requires us to be there for the needy, when we ourselves are in need. He asks us to give, when we have nothing to give. What attitude do we do this with? Do we complain about our nothingness, our sickness, our weakness, our pain, our problems? Or do we cheerfully serve where we are called to? I couldn’t help but think about how these women carried out their service in the community “in spite of” how much it might have hurt or upset them. This was the first thing God spoke to me—Do what you are called to “in spite of” what’s happening in your life! What you are called to do, is not about you, it’s about Me!
The other thing I learned from these women was their “fear” of God. I don’t think we fully understand what “fear of God” means. The Bible says they “feared God”. The king of Egypt, who obviously had the power to kill them with one word from his mouth, asked them to do something that would compromise their calling. I don’t know what this king was like, but if he was ruthless enough to suggest killing babies, I’d think I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side.
But Shiprah and Puah decided to do otherwise. They quietly listened to what the king had to say and then went back and continued carrying out their work as they used to. No alterations. No change of plan. No compromise. They could die at the hands of the king, but they didn’t fear that. They “feared’ God. They actually were scared of not fulfilling their God-ordained work. They were frightened at the thought of being answerable to God for the blood of innocent children.
As I sit at work and type this article, I can only think of how many times I haven’t feared God. The many times I have thought it okay to lie a little for “fear” of being caught, or to make excuses for sin with the “fear” of being embarrassed in front of my friends. What a shame! Let’s repent of “fearing” the wrong party today. Right now.
Lastly, I can’t help but mention how God blessed these women with families of their own when He noticed how much they feared Him. It wasn’t when they prayed for families that He blessed them. It wasn’t when they continued serving Him patiently under “normal’ circumstances that He blessed them. It was when their “ministry” was boldly challenged; and when they made the harder choice of fearing God and not their circumstance were they blessed with families.
Beloved, let’s not assume that if we are doing our bit in the church faithfully, praying and serving diligently—that this alone will bring down the much awaited blessings in our lives.
Let’s learn from Shiprah and Puah that demonstrating our “fear” of God in all the choices that we make is what moves the heart of God.