In her new book, Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God, Noël Piper examines the lives and deep Christian faith of five women from Christian history.
A typical day in the life of Sarah Edwards might include any number of the following tasks: breaking ice to haul water, bringing firewood into the home, tending the fire, making candles, making clothing for her family, overseeing the butchering of livestock, cooking and packing lunches for visiting travelers, making brooms, harvesting and preserving produce, and caring for her 11 children.
In her new book, Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God (Crossway), Noël Piper lists the scores of daily tasks that Sarah Edwards would have carried out as a homemaker in early eighteenth century America. Sarah Edwards was the wife of Jonathan Edwards, generally considered America’s greatest theological mind.
But what may seem mundane to the twenty-first century western mind, Sarah Edwards saw as faithful service to the glory of God, Piper asserts.
"In our centrally-heated houses, it’s difficult to imagine the tasks that were Sarah’s or were hers to delegate," Piper writes. "Once when Sarah was out of town and Jonathan was in charge, he wrote almost desperately, ‘We have been without you almost as long as we know how to be.’"
Piper examines the lives and deep Christian faith of Sarah Edwards along with four other women from Christian history, including Lilias Trotter, Gladys Alward, Esther Ahn Kim, and Helen Roseveare.
Trotter, who was born in England in 1853, served as a missionary in North Africa. Alward left England in 1932 for the mission field in China. Kim was a resolute believer who underwent intense persecution during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Roseveare was a doctor who served the native population of the Congo, suffering through many years during which the region was torn by war.
But each woman had a common bond: they suffered in their own way and did so with joy, seeing their suffering and faithful service as being carried out on the strength of God’s grace and for His glory.
While Piper gives short bios of the lives and ministries of each of the women, ultimately her purpose is to shine forth the glory of God through their work as well as their patient endurance of suffering.
"So you might ask, Why would I want to bother reading their stories?" Piper writes. "There’s just one reason: These extraordinary women had an extraordinary God who enabled them to do extraordinary things. And he’s the same today for us.
"That’s why we discover unexpected crossings between our lives and the lives of these five women who lived and worked in six nations over a span of 250 years."
Piper also intends for the book to encourage modern-day Christian women, some of whom, like Sarah Edwards, may serve their families day in and day out at home, while failing to see the impact they are having on future generations.
"As Sarah Edwards fulfilled her tedious, humdrum responsibilities as wife and mother, she had little idea of the ongoing impact she would make for generations through her husband and children and others who came into her home," Piper writes. "Don’t we need that encouragement in our mundane days?"
Piper’s book is available through the CBMW webstore at https://www.cbmw.org/cgi-bin/store?show|554|Women.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.