"Ezer" is the term used in Genesis to describe Eve, often translated as "helper": "There was no suitable helper for Adam, so God gave him Eve." But that's actually a poor translation because we tend to reduce "helper" to something akin to an assistant.
However, the term "ezer" is used over twenty times in the Old Testament. And in every case, "ezer" is essentially translated as "deliverer". In three cases, "ezer" refers to a more powerful nation that Israel calls on for help. In the rest, "ezer" refers to God himself as deliverer. Most references recall the imagery of saving military might.
In the past year or so, I've developed a deeper appreciation for the saving might of women, and how their womanhood reflects the sacrificial, life-giving love of God. I've seen a birth mom fight like hell to win her kids (our foster kids) back, and she scrapped against all odds to get them the help they need in a world that neglects the little ones. We've seen the passing of women's rights advocate Ruth Bader Ginsberg, followed by her predecessor Amy Coney Barrett who rose to the highest court in the land as a mother of seven. We've witnessed the first female vice president.
But it is my seeing motherhood up close—the strength and love of my wife—that has taught me the most about the saving military might of my Ezer.
I watched the brutalization of her body and her continual sacrifice, all in joy, but not without tears.
Even more, I watched as she has nurtured, defended, and fought for children who were not her own, knowing that soon she would have to give them up, but willing to spend her sacred mother-love-of-God on them, because they had no one else.
All of this while nurturing a child in her womb, in a pregnancy that was filled with difficulties and near loss. All of this while heading to the nursing home rehab facility where she worked, each day to give residents life-saving medical care, and a listening ear, in the final years—or hours—of their life. She loved those at their end, and returned home to love those in their beginning.
And finally I saw her birth our baby, and nurse her, and love her in ways only mothers can. The sacrifices a mother makes to grow and nurture another human is my "ezer" because it draws me into a greater awareness of my selfishness in the midst of a world that is made for men.
During this past Advent season, I had an extra reverence for the teenage virgin mother of God and her role in raising the ultimate "Ezer". As Kaitlyn Hardy Shetler writes in her poem:
Indeed, the armor of this world isn't made for women, but still they find a way to deliver us.