Life-Giving Encouragement: Tend and Befriend
By Jane Anne Wilson, Guest Writer
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant. -Psalm 25:14
Did you know in a landmark study researchers found that women react to stress differently than men because different proportions of hormones are released into the bloodstream? Men release much smaller amounts of oxytocin than women, leaving them to feel more acutely the effects of the flight-or-fight response. Men tend to respond to stress by escaping from the situation, fighting back or bottling up their emotions. Women, on the other hand, are genetically hard-wired for nurturing in a crisis, in large part due to the oxytocin released into their bloodstream, combined with other female hormones. A common female response to a crisis is to “tend and befriend.”
I realize in this culture there will be those who bristle at the thought that men and women are different but hold on! This is a secular study. Let’s see how this plays out in daily life.
It’s no surprise to me that secular scientists came to this conclusion because as women, God has given us a specific design that glorifies Him by revealing some of His character qualities (Read Genesis 2). Women are uniquely designed by God with all that we need to be life-givers. A life-giver is one who helps by comforting, supporting, defending, delivering and rescuing. These are military actions. In fact, Scripture describes God as our HELPER. We reflect God’s image when we display these helper qualities of God. Psalms 25:14 tells us that:
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant.
God’s covenant with us is a demonstration of His nurturing way as He condescends to us, choosing a relationship with us, nurturing, or tending and befriending.
God does not choose to give us this biological capacity for nurturing simply for the enjoyment of ourselves or those around us, we are bearing His image to the world, making Him famous, glorifying Him, when we reflect His image as a nurturing life-giving helper. Scripture tells us:
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. -Romans 8:29
Go back and read that Scripture again. This is mind-boggling. God’s plan is for us to be like Jesus! There is more! He wants us to have a strong family resemblance to His Son so that people who live in our “village” recognize Jesus in us. Before you feel hopeless, despairing of ever reflecting to others the love of Jesus because you have messed up so much, hold on to this truth: If God plans it, then it is possible! Remember Eve? God gave her the name of Life-Giver AFTER she sinned. God is in the business of transforming dead, broken hearts into life-giving, hope-filled, beating hearts. Can you feel hope bubbling up in your own soul, that you can be a life-giver in situations that seem filled with death?
Oh Lord, we thank you for creating Your children to be life-givers. Show us one way we can offer one tiny glimmer of life to someone who desperately needs You today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Anne Wilson, wife to David, mother of four children, and grandmother to two grandchildren, presently serves on the women’s ministry leadership team in her local church and is the Northeast Regional Advisor for her denomination’s national women’s ministry team.
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