I am the youngest of three children, and the ONLY girl. Some of you probably know what that means to you, but for me, it meant survival! I learned how to get out of wresting holds early, learned how to swim by threat, and developed a habit of “hit first.” Perhaps that is not fair; they were protective of me–with others–but I certainly had to hold my own. But, I never knew what it was like to be a sister, to a sister. I saw the deep connection my mother had with her precious sisters, and my cousins’, or friends’ relationships with their sisters, but I never experienced that sweet sister love; that deep bond between women who experience life the same until I was born (John 3:4-5) into my eternal family (Matthew 12:46-48). It is a relationship that I cherish deeply, one that will carry me beyond this life, and one that I cannot imagine how I would make it through this life without.
Few things compare with the deep connection that women in Christ have with each other. It is a bond of precious sister-love; a relationship greater than earthly friendships and family, and one only found in a deep, abiding, eternal love for the truth and our Lord (1 Peter 1:22-23). It gives us strength to stand firm together as a family (Ephesians 4:2-4). This eternal commitment we share to help each other carry our daily burdens (Galatians 6:2), makes the load a little lighter when we grow weary and weak.
Our Lord has given us great examples of our spiritual sisters. We know that women walked together with our Lord (Luke 24:10 reports that Joanna was with them [the apostles] “and also the other women” KJV). I am sure that these sisters took great comfort in one another. The sisterhood in the scriptures and the accounts of women’s lives that our Lord provided us serve as a refuge, comfort and a pattern as we walk our eternal path together.
I have often contemplated the two women, the sisters, who walked together to the Lord’s tomb. In John 20 we see our sisters serving together: “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early and Mary, the mother of James and Salome brought spices to anoint the body, when it was yet dark.” (John 20:1 KJV). I have thought about the journey these women took together to care for their Lord’s body. I think about the months, or perhaps years they spent serving our Lord together, the bond these two women must have developed as they served these men of God, and listened to the teachings of our Lord, together. Their faithfulness to each other and the Lord shows us an eternal bond as sisters in Christ, one that carried them through the tough times they no doubt had to endure while following their Master. It was a bond that transcended their earthly ties, and quite possibly separated them from their earthly families. It was a bond that only a sister shares who is able to see the eternal goal as clearly as another can, only one who understands the hopes and dreams that are not bound by the everyday discouragement can understand. It was a bond of eternal sisterhood.
I have amazing sisters. Some of my sisters who have buried their husbands are a great example of faithfulness by maintaining their focus on the Lord as they finish their journey on this earth without their mate. I have marveled at their composure and strength. But, I know that the Lord provided comfort in His word by giving them an account of their sisters, Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:2-3) who faced with the death of a husband and sons, never faltered in their faithfulness to the Lord, or to each other. I see my sisters, who are young mothers trying to teach their children how to worship their Lord in spirit and in truth, trying to bring their children up in the Lord, following the example of their older sisters who trained Timothy (II Tim. 1:5). I see sisters who are married to men who are not Christians and make it difficult for them to serve the Lord, or endure abuse, but never complain or step out of the Lord’s will for their marriage. I know that they draw courage from their sisters like Abigail who endured a cruel husband and served the Lord anyway (I Sam 25:3). I have sisters who struggled with infertility, but are encouraged by their sister Hannah (I Sam 1-2) who turned to the Lord in her pain, and trust in Him for her comfort.
I am always shocked when I hear women I work with talk about how much they dislike working with other women. Some even say they don’t like women. They cite women’s competitive nature and pettiness. How sad that the world doesn’t know the peace and comfort a spiritual sister can give in a time of hardship, self doubt and mental, physical and spiritual discouragement. I have been blessed with a wonderful spiritual sisterhood who has given me guidance, encouragement when I was weak and weary, and helped to point me in the direction in a loving way when I have fallen and am ashamed. Sisters can give the guiding hand we need to help us to maintain our focus in the right direction (Titus 2:3-4). I am grateful to the Lord for wonderful loving sisters, who help me to keep my focus, to better understand the Lord’s will and edify, exhort and encourage me when I fail all too often. I have been blessed to know women I am proud to name as my sister. These sisters tirelessly and consistently present their lives with a gentle quiet spirit of joy in service to their Lord. These are women who, no matter how far we are apart physically, are close in my heart and are always with me in spirit. We should not underestimate the words the Lord used in calling us His children. It is that bond, as His children that we are able to call each other “sister.” I am eternally grateful for the Lord designing the church as a support system, a spiritual family, to help me walk through this life hand-in-hand, instead of standing alone. I just don’t know if I could do it alone, without my sisters.
By Tracy Frederick
Tracy is the wife of Greg who serves as an elder for the Arkansas City church of Christ. They have a grown daughter who faithfully serves her Lord. She teaches (and LOVES) the 2-3 yr old Bible class, interprets for the deaf as needed, helps with ladies day preparations and speaks at ladies days, has taught teen girls classes loves refinishing antiques, and teaches communication full-time at a nearby college. She writes for and serves as editor for the site “Sister to Sister.” You can also check out their Facebook group.