The woman that I read about in my devotional study book this week is Joanna.
This study is the first time that I have ever heard of Joanna. There is not much said about her in Scripture, but God does not have to use very many words to say so much, amen?
We are introduced to Joanna in the book of Luke.
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
Being the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household, would have made Joanna a woman of high rank in Herod's court.
These verses tell us that Jesus healed Joanna, but we don't know "what" she experienced healing from, but her response to Jesus' healing touch was huge and personal. She gave herself to Jesus and His ministry. She, like the other women, followed Jesus wherever He went, and she supported him and his ministry from her own means.
The devotional that I am reading points out that Herod himself may have known about Joanna's personal story of healing at the hands of Jesus.
As with all of the other women that I have learned about in my devotional, there is always a certain part of each story that sticks out in my mind. This story is no exception.
Before I tell you what struck me the most, let me share the verses from God's Word that tells a little more about Joanna and the other faithful women that were with her.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'" Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.
It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
What strikes me so much about the story of Joanna is her faith and the faith of the ladies that she was with.
Think about it for a minute.......These ladies are telling the Eleven and some others what the angels had just told them to be true of Jesus and what had happened to His body, but the men did not believe them.
The Eleven did not believe them.
The Eleven who had been with Jesus all throughout His ministry.
The Eleven that knew Him personally.
The Eleven that loved Him.
Are the same Eleven men that thought that these women spoke words of nonsense.
But these ladies, including Joanna, spoke boldly in faith to the Eleven. They knew what they had seen with their own eyes, and they knew what they had heard with their own ears. They knew the peace that they felt in their hearts.
That is what strikes me the most of the story of Joanna; her complete confidence in Jesus.
Being married to the manager of Herod's household, Joanna was a woman very familiar with power. But she knew that the power she had been surrounded by in her wealthy lifestyle in Herod's court was nothing like the power she had found in Jesus.
It did not matter to her if others thought that she was just an hysterical, grieving woman, because she knew what the truth was. She knew Who the Truth was.
God honored her faithfulness by letting her be one of the first witnesses to the Resurrection.
So many times in our own lives and walk with the Lord, others don't believe us when we tell them something wonderful that God has done in our lives. If you go so far as to tell someone that God has promised you a miracle in any given situation, most times you will be looked at as someone speaking "nonsense."
But thankfully, God has given us the testimony of Joanna and her faithful friends for encouragement in our own walks of faith. What those faithful women told the Eleven about Jesus was one hundred percent true. The disbelief of the Eleven did not change a thing; these women knew the truth.
When God speaks a word into our hearts, we need to walk with that same faith. Others may not believe you, but that's okay, because you know what God spoke to your heart.
I have been confronted by someone in my past who tried to argue with me about this very topic. I shared with her a promise that God had made to me, and she told me very matter of fact that I was completely mistaken. She said that God would not promise me that because of decisions that Shannon and I had made in our past. I looked at her and said, "You can think what you want, and that is okay. The thing is, God told me about this promise, not you." She was quite speechless after that. And I will humbly tell you that was the first time in my life that I did not back down, and I did not let the devil use her negative comments to confuse me or make me question what I knew God had told me.
And several months later, God honored my faithfulness of believing His Word over the negative words of another. That same girl called me and apologized, because God had shown her that what He told me was completely possible, and that it lined up with His Word. She said that she realized just because God wasn't speaking to her in that same way, didn't mean that He wasn't speaking to me.
Our relationship with God is a personal one. So no other person can know (without your sharing) what God says to you. That is between you and God.
God speaks to each and every one of us differently.
Only Moses stood in front of the burning bush.
Only Jonah sat in the belly of a whale.
Only Daniel sat in the lion's den.
Only Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood in the fire.
God speaks to us uniquely,and works through us all uniquely, because we are all unique. Not one of us are the same, nor will our walks with Him be the same.
So listen for God's Voice in your own life.
Look for His activity all around you.
Open your Bible and read it to see if what you are seeing and hearing lines up with the Word of God.
He will speak to you. You just need to open your heart, listen, and believe!
The devotional book points out how Joanna and the other women went to the tomb grieving, but left the tomb rejoicing.
Scripture tells us that we will experience that same type of joy. It may not come in "our" timing, but our joy will come in God's timing.
And it is a promise.
His timing is perfect.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
The devotional ends with a beautiful prayer that I will share with you.
"Lord, you laugh at the rulers and powers of this world who oppose you. Help me to realize that no evil, regardless of how terrible or prolonged it might be, can ever stand against you. Give me a greater sense of your resurrection power and majesty."