Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.
“It’s hard to be seen, let alone respected, as a woman in the workplace— especially as an Asian American woman. Unless I’m wearing a blazer and high heels, the assumption is that I should be the one getting coffee for the group instead of the one leading the meeting.”
The rest of us at the table—women of various ethnic backgrounds and across the career spectrum—nod our heads in agreement and lament that this has too often been our experience as well. Unless we appear taller, older, more domineering, or even more masculine, we’re not taken seriously or seen as professional.
Another woman shares how she’s held back tears in ministry meetings because she knew her opinion would be discounted. She would’ve been deemed “too emotional,” and therefore her empathy and heart for justice would’ve been overlooked. I can see the anguish and anger in her face when she talks about how powerless and diminished she felt in those situations and how she longed to be valued without repressing her emotions.
I’m stunned by the commonality of our pain. I had thought I was the only one who was seen as “the cute Asian girl” instead of the professional grown woman that I am, and I’m relieved that I’m not alone in feeling overlooked and undervalued.
At five foot one, with a round face, eager smile, and chipper attitude, I feel as though I’m playing dress-up when I take the stage at a conference or sit in leadership meetings where I’m the only woman in the room. I’ve learned along the way that heels and a blazer do make a difference in the way I’m treated and that tears indicate weakness, not strength.
Furthermore, and sadly, I’ve seen women in Christian spaces who are looked down on for the way they dress if they’re highlighting their best physical features or who are laughed at for their intelligence or their courage to fight against misogyny.
I despise that I’ve needed to and chosen to suppress who I am to some extent in order to fit into the likeness of what others—and especially men—have said about who and how I should be.
My womanhood is not a liability to myself or to anyone else. It is a gift.
I hear this message most clearly from those outside of faith circles, but in the quietest parts of my soul, I know it’s true in God’s eyes too. Though the stories of the Bible are set within patriarchal cultures, there are glimpses of God’s heart for women throughout the arc of Scripture. The daughters of Zelophehad are given their father’s inheritance in the promised land right alongside his other male relatives (Num. 27:1–11). Jesus is born of Mary (Luke 1:26–38), and Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba are all included in His genealogy. Mary Magdalene is the first messenger to bring news of the resurrection (John 20:11–18).
I see myself particularly in the story of Zelophehad’s five daughters. Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah, and Tirzah have the audacity and the strength of sisterhood to confront Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of Israel to demand that they be recognized as legitimate heirs of their father’s land. They challenge the cultural expectations, history, and laws of their people, which do not favor women. Moses brings their case before the Lord, and God responds, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them” (Num. 27:7).
Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah, and Tirzah knew their value, and they made it known to everyone else. They set a precedent for women to be audacious and valued, and in God’s approval of their request, I see His approval of my worth as well.
Father, You see me fully. When You breathed life into me, You breathed pricelessness into me. When it seems that my womanhood is a liability for others, help me to remember that You made me a woman on purpose and that You value me as such. Make me audacious and bold like the daughters of Zelophehad, like Jesus Himself. Amen.
This article was written by Grace P. Cho, as published in Empowered: More of Him for All of You.
Today on the podcast — a bonus episode! Listen in as Grace reads her chapter titled Mending a Marriage That Was Falling Apart, from our newest book, Come Sit With Me. Listen at the player below, or wherever you stream podcasts.Leave a Comment
I love all the little glimpses of how much God values women in the Bible. There is a story for everybody.
Thank you so much for pulling out this beautiful story and lesson.
I am appalled that these attitudes are so commonplace. Since both in my church and in my employment, for most of my career, being an intelligent woman was an asset and was respected. Only later, in both realms, did I experience attitudes like this and was stunned. Fortunately I was older then, more comfortable in my own skin and the years of the respect and acceptance of me and my skills helped to blunt the consequences to my heart and soul. As a younger person it would have been more devastating, My thought remains: if God gave me intelligence and other gifts, He expects me to use them in whatever situation I am in. The same is for each of us. I will not let others demean me even when it takes quite a bit of effort on my part to remember I am God’s valuable, beloved child and no opinion is more important than His.
Ruth Mills says
“When You breathed life into me, You breathed pricelessness into me” Oh may we treat ourselves & others in the truth of that sentence! Thank you Grace!
Andrea C says
A few years ago, I set out to read the Bible from beginning to end. After reading the first five chapters, I needed a break. It was heavy, especially reading it as a women and knowing how we were treated in society at the time. But I do remember verses that offered glimmers of hope, God’s heart, like this passage from Numbers. Thanks for weaving this into your blog today! It’s definitely inspiring and encouraging.
Amen. I have been fighting this forever it seems. I am now 68, 5ft 2, with white hair. It has changed somewhat but I still fight to be taken seriously and capable. We have come a long way but we are not there yet. Shameful that it is 2023 and we still are struggling.
Ariel Krienke says
Beautiful message. My husband is healing from family hurt as well and trying to repair our marriage. I now know that no matter what I have value in how the Lord God sees me. Now with the help of the chosen tv series I have a vision of Jesus looking at me with love and value apart from any person on earth. He is enough
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Thank you for today’s reading. We are all as women beautiful in God’s eyes. As it says in Job 1 verse 21 “Naked I came from my Mother’s womb and naked I will return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away Blessed be the name of the Lord.” That tell me God loves us with out clothes or makeup to make us more beautiful as we beautiful in his eyes. We as women don’t have to do this or this to make us more beautiful or for God to expect us. So that tells me. We are to not look at women for the way they look or dress or what makeup they wear if wear any. We are to love them and see them beautiful like God does us. As it also says Jeremiah 1 verse 5 at the start of that verse it says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”. That is so amazing that God even knew us before he formed us in our Mother’s womb. So if God made us he must have made us because the way he wanted us to be. That is beautiful people he wanted us to be. So we as women don’t have to compete feel we have to be up with the rest of women in the world. As it only matter what God thinks of us not people in the world. So our womanhood is a beautiful gift from God. Even if we never have kids or have kids. We are beautiful in God’s eyes and that is all that matters. We are also Daughter of the King’s if Kings that king I’d JESUS. I say Amen to that. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Thank you for today’s reading. We are all as women beautiful in God’s eyes. As it says in Job 1 verse 21 “Naked I came from my Mother’s womb and naked I will return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away Blessed be the name of the Lord.” That tell me God loves us with out clothes or makeup to make us more beautiful as we beautiful in his eyes. We as women don’t have to do this or this to make us more beautiful or for God to expect us. So that tells me. We are to not look at women for the way they look or dress or what makeup they wear if wear any. We are to love them and see them beautiful like God does us. As it also says Jeremiah 1 verse 5 at the start of that verse it says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”. That is so amazing that God even knew us before he formed us in our Mother’s womb. So if God made us he must have made us because the way he wanted us to be. That is beautiful people he wanted us to be. So we as women don’t have to compete feel we have to be up with the rest of women in the world. As it only matter what God thinks of us not people in the world. So our womanhood is a beautiful gift from God. Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Kathy Francescon says
The post was lovely as were all these beautiful comments, from all these beautiful ladies! I can relate to all of them! Every human being that God creates is beautiful to Him! Blessings to everyone to feel and know that each of you are so beautiful inside and out! Does anyone remember the old Carol King song, “Your as Beautiful as You Feel?”
Beth Williams says
Jesus always did things counterculturally. He valued all people no matter race, color, or gender. One prominent story that sticks out in my mind is when He talked with a “Samaritan” woman at the well. First off Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans much less women. Through that interaction many people from the town got saved. If God values woman that much then we shouldn’t let others demean us. Women were some of the first people to see Jesus resurrected & tell others. Don’t let society treat your woman hood as a liability. Treat it as a special gift from God.