“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!’” Luke 1:41-42 (NIV)
As my friend and I walked into the office, our eyes widened with surprise. Things were changing. Our staff had expanded to accommodate the growth of our ministry, and the room brimmed with godly, talented women in their 20s.
“We’re so old!” my friend wailed in my ear.
My initial reaction matched hers. For a minute, my thoughts zoomed in on my matronly waistline and graying hair, but then the Lord filled my focus with a better perspective. I began to think about all the women He’s given me as mentors through the years. He gave me:
Layne, a 20-something who encouraged me to give my whole life to Jesus in my teenage years.
Jean, a recent graduate of my university who cheered on my gifts in our church’s college group.
Mona, a woman in her 50s who guided me through my early days in women’s ministry.
Rey, a middle-aged woman just a few years older than me who challenged me to choose love over perfectionism in my spiritual life.
God has always delighted in joining women of different ages to encourage, guide and teach. One of my favorite examples of how God uses older women is the story of Elizabeth found in Luke 1.
In this exquisite story of intergenerational friendship, a young Mary, overflowing with the stunning news that she is pregnant with the Messiah, hurries to Elizabeth, who is “well along in years” (Luke 1:18, NIV). Filled with the discernment and power of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth explodes with affirmation and encouragement. Here’s what Elizabeth does well:
She honors another woman. In uncertain circumstances that must have left Mary’s knees knocking, Elizabeth immediately honors her. “Blessed are you among women …” (Luke 1:42) she proclaims, recognizing the gift that God has bestowed on Mary. What strength must have flowed into Mary’s heart as God’s favor was acknowledged by the woman she turned to.
She affirms her mission. Elizabeth knows the truth before Mary can say a word: “… blessed is the child you will bear!” (Luke 1:42). The confirmation that Mary was carrying the Messiah must have been a sweet gift from God to Mary. Elizabeth’s epic “atta girl” probably rang in Mary’s ears throughout her pregnancy and trials.
She builds her faith. Elizabeth closes with the words that many of us cling to when God’s promises feel distant. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45, NIV) In the following verses, Mary responds with a song for the ages, reflecting her soaring faith and gratitude.
The older women I listed and many more have given me the same gifts that Elizabeth gave Mary. They’ve honored the image of God in me even when my behavior didn’t yet match up. They’ve affirmed my mission and calling in ways that kept me going on the hard days. And they’ve built my faith both by their own example and the Scripture they spoke over me.
I have had “Elizabeths” in my life, and now I’m the older woman, called to follow in their faithful footsteps.
That day at the office, I pulled myself out of the fond memories of older women who cheered me on along life’s way. Linking arms with my friend, I cried out happily, “It’s our turn! We’re the older women now!”
We’re all older than someone, and it’s always a choice. We can bemoan our fading youth, or we can step into being an encourager, affirming the mission and calling of the younger women around us. We can be like Elizabeth — the older, Spirit-filled woman coming alongside to build the faith of the next generation.
Lord, having other women to live life with is a gift. Help me to receive encouragement from older women who are blazing a path of faith. And use me to encourage younger women, too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
To the girl who feels alone in a crowded room, feels like no one’s first choice or feels afraid of letting anyone in … you are known and loved by God no matter what. Based on Psalm 139, our "Known" Cuff is a tangible reminder of who God says you are. Click here to get yours before they are gone!
Today’s devotion writer, Amy Carroll, has been in a season of studying women in the Bible, and her new speaking messages are filled with the lessons she’s learning. Click here to find out how you can book Amy to speak at your next event.
Follow Amy on Instagram, where she offers a steady stream of encouragement for tender hearts and strong voices of every age.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
2 Corinthians 13:11, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (NIV)
Who is an older woman who encourages you, calls out your gifts or builds your faith? Who is the younger woman in your life who you can encourage in the same way? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2021 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
P.O. Box 3189
Matthews, NC 28106