An Excellent Wife
by Jonathan Hamilton
An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
I rarely use this blog for personal posts, but occasionally it is quite necessary to do so. Today is one of those occasions.
My wife Stephanie and I moved to Michigan almost exactly eight years ago. We pulled out of Fairbanks, Alaska on Monday, August 13 pulling a 12×6 U-Haul trailer and arrived in Houghton on Sunday, August 19.
After a few very boring weeks spent by herself each day at our rental home in Calumet, the Lord blessed Steph with a job at Finlandia University where she spent about two years in the admissions office.
In the Fall of 2009, she was offered and accepted a fellowship at Michigan Technological University to begin pursuing her PhD in Biomedical Engineering. With no Masters degree, we expected the path from undergrad to PhD to take five years.
On August 4, 2015, a little more than a year after we originally hoped to be done, Steph successfully defended her doctoral dissertation at MTU in front of 20 friends, fellow students, and committee members.
We knew the path to that day was not going to be easy, but we had no idea when we got into this exactly what that meant. Boy did we learn quickly!
Over the past six years I have watched Steph work hard to persevere through difficult subject matter that is so far beyond my understanding that I long ago stopped asking what she was working on! Incredibly, Steph did much of this work on a virtual island in human terms. Because of her study area, she did not have peers and professors to help her through many of the difficulties. She struggled daily, on her own, to piece things together and figure out innumerable problems, glitches, and dead ends with software, codes, and programming. And all I could do was cheerlead because I was totally ignorant of the things she was working on. These have been lonely years for Steph.
She did all of this while maintaining our home. Did she need help at times? Obviously. But she never neglected to be a wife. She didn’t complain and didn’t make excuses. Inconveniences far less than the legitimate difficulties that Steph endured make me squeal like a stuck pig (a very technical example).
Steph is a hard-working, smart woman.
But let’s be honest: though this is rare, it’s not impossible to find. Even many unbelieving women fit this description. So what is it that makes Stephanie an excellent wife?
By this I mean the wisdom that only God provides. The book of Proverbs is all about wisdom. And when you get down to the end of its 31 chapters you find, in the final two-thirds of chapter 31, that wisdom is personified as a woman. Lady Wisdom, many have called her.
If you read Proverbs 31, you might get the impression that no woman could ever measure up to this impossibly high standard. And I think that is accurate. In my view, Proverbs 31 is not intended to function as a hard and fast rule that Christian women must achieve or be considered failures. The point is that the developments of Lady Wisdom throughout the book of Proverbs culminate here.
Proverbs 31:10-31 is a great example of the imaginative literature that is so often displayed in scripture. Rather than simply saying “Wisdom is really good, you should get it,” it paints a stunning picture that portrays Lady Wisdom in poetic ways that certainly get that point across. By using features like hyperbole, parallelism, chiasm, and simile, it does so far more memorably than a cut and dried propositional statement could do. Proverbs 31 beautifully portrays the life of wisdom.
Here’s what I most admire about the wife the Lord has given me: over six difficult years of work and toil toward a goal that, at times, seemed like a ghost we would never capture, Steph pursued Christ. It was he who graciously sustained her through the very real loneliness of the path, and more than once, made it clear that he desired her to continue on.
She is a more godly woman today then she was six years ago. She loves the Lord more, she loves His Word more, and she loves His people more. I can think of no greater tests of wisdom than these.
The latter half of Proverbs 31:30 tells us that a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Elsewhere we read that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Stephanie fears the Lord. She reverences him. She worships him. Her worth is far above rubies, and the Lord has made it so.
Who am I that the Lord of heaven and earth would give me such a gift? I fall prostrate and praise him for it.