Building Faith like Strong Women of the Bible

I don’t know how your 2023 ended or your 2024 began, but if it was anything like mine, goodness, did life do quite the little number!

To be honest, the past five months have been some of the hardest months of my life. The circumstances that surround me have been overwhelming, discouraging, and downright exhausting. It is as if the massive waves of life are continuously slamming me down. If you’re there floundering in the choppy waters with me, it is precisely in these moments when we must turn our attention towards the strong women in the Bible whose stories can teach us how to maintain buoyancy when we not only feel like we can’t continue treading water but feel like we are drowning.

There are so many incredible examples of strong women sprinkled throughout Scripture. My mind first moves to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Most scholars believe Mary was a young teenager at the time of her and Joseph’s betrothal. Can you imagine? Mary was barely a “woman”—more like a strong, young woman in the Bible. She exhibited a tremendous amount of faith to the angel’s charge of being supernaturally impregnated with the Savior of the world when she answered determinedly, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). That same determination and faith was put to the test throughout the rest of her life as she lived it out among a community who was most likely skeptical and critical of her and her child and the man He would become. Can you imagine being the mother of the Savior who would be beaten and bruised and cruelly executed for no reason? The type of strength that Mary had is the type I hope to wield, as well. As we look at her example, it begs the question, where did her strength come from? To be able to withstand judgmental glances from those around her, to not lose her sanity or completely fall apart when many of her people were trying to hunt down and eventually kill her son. That type of strength has only one source—God. Mary was a devout Jew. She knew her God and her God knew her. I believe it was from truly knowing God and His character that she was able to trust Him, and it was her ability and willingness to trust Him that grew her strength.

When I think of strong women in the Bible, I think of Esther. She was another young woman who was asked to do something scary, intimidating, and potentially life-threatening. She was used to save her people from destruction but had to risk her own life to save theirs. Going before the king without being summoned was a dangerous thing to do, yet she did it. How did she have the strength to do what was necessary in that moment? As we read in Scripture, she asked her cousin Mordecai to gather all the Jews together to fast and pray for her. Because you see, Esther knew something that we so often forget—in order to have courageous faith and the strength to do what we are called to do, we must pray and rely on God to help us do it. We are not expected to do these things alone and in our own strength, and thank the Lord for that! Because if that were the case, we would fall short every time.

I think of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. Her story is found in the Gospels, specifically in Matthew 9, Mark 5, and Luke 8. It is such a short story yet holds such powerful truths. This woman had been bleeding for twelve years and had spent all she had on doctors to help her but to no avail. This type of issue would have made her an outcast in her society. No one would have been allowed to touch her or be around her. She was desperate, and it was this desperation that led her to Jesus. Rumblings of who Jesus was and the miracles He had been performing spread like wildfire. “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well” (Mt. 9:21). The woman knew that all she had to do was be near Him, touch Him, and her issue would be resolved. When she did so, Jesus could feel power leaving Him. He looked at her and said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well” (v.22). What strength this woman had to fight through fear and throngs of people so she could simply touch the hem of His garment. The strength she had even though her physical body as well as her mental and emotional self were weak. Where did she find the strength to simply move toward Him? Her strength was grounded in her faith and hope in who Jesus was and is and will be. It was this hope that propelled her to take a risk, and it was this hope that changed her life.

There are many other strong women in the Bible like Rahab, Ruth, Martha, and Mary Magdalene. What can we learn from their example? How can we be known as strong women, women with courageous faith, just like them?

For one, we see in each story that these strong women are not strong because of their own strength. They are strong because of His. In my own life and circumstances recently, I spent quite a few months simply being angry. Angry at circumstances, angry at people, angry at myself, and even sometimes angry with God. As the river of grief led me through different stages and emotions, I went from being angry to simply being sad. I wrote in my journal one night with tears flooding my eyes that I preferred being angry to being sad. Anger made me feel strong. Sadness however made me feel vulnerable and weak. I did not care for that. And in that moment, the Holy Spirit nudged me with this truth: my strength is made perfect in your weakness. Or as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). I do not have to have it all together and my God does not expect me to. I do not have to pretend like I can handle every situation, every pressure, every scenario. I can come before Him weak and vulnerable and depleted and exhausted and it is in those moments when His power and strength is made perfect. And the same is true for you, friend. He is not expecting you to hold it all together flawlessly and without complaint. He desires for you to come honestly before Him and allow Him to help you and strengthen you. As we come before Him to replenish us each day or even each moment of the day—He will.

Another thing we can learn from these strong women of the Bible is that to be strong in faith we must cling to hope. I’m not necessarily talking about the “power of positivity,” glass half-full, lie-to-ourselves-and-ignore-all-reality types of clinging to hope here. I am saying that in the midst of any wave of life threatening to knock us down and knock the breath right out of us—we can look directly at it and say the hope we have as women of faith does not lie in our circumstances but in our risen Savior! Regardless of what circumstances might throw at us, regardless of how much it could hurt or the ripple effect of changes it will make, the hope we have says that there is no tsunami-like wave that is bigger than our God. The hope we have says that even if a wave knocks us down, our God will pick us up and put us back on steady ground. The hope we have says that even if He doesn’t do that, He is still good. The hope we have says that at the end of this life (however that end comes and no matter what it may look like around us) the end is merely a beginning to an eternity of being with Jesus. You continue to cling to hope, not to pretend positivities, but to the truth of who God is and what He says. As you do, you will find His strength increasing inside of you and that strength of faith will carry you through any wave that threatens to take you down.

So whatever life looks like for you right now, however strong or weak you may feel, my prayer is that you find encouragement through these words, but most importantly, through the stories of these incredibly strong women of the Bible. And if you ever feel like you can’t go on, stop for a moment, breathe, and simply fall into the hands of Jesus. You’ve got this, friend, because He’s got you.

photo of Gabbi Hartzell

I am a Jesus follower who is passionate about moving His mission forward!
Along with the role of mother to three spunky little girls, I am also the founder of The Flourish Factory (a nonprofit for women in my community), an inspirational and motivational speaker, a seminary graduate, and am currently writing my first book all about pursuing the purpose God has given you and running your race!
To connect further, head to or find me on social media @gabbihartzell.