What picture does the word “widow” bring to mind? Is it an image of someone pathetic, sad, drab—garbed in black and forever mourning?
When a woman becomes a widow, the loss of her husband usually brings shock, indecision and even incoherent thoughts at first. She may feel lost, even frightened, as if split in half. For some time after, whenever there is something surprising, funny or nice that she would have related to her husband, she will turn to speak—but her words freeze when she sees the chair beside her is empty! This disheartening habit took me a while to break when I became a widow.
Widows in the true Church of God, however, have a great advantage. As someone once said: “There are two classes of widows—the bereaved and the relieved.” We may feel lonely, but we are never alone. God is always there—our Protector, Provider, Guide and Helper.
God is particularly concerned with society's disadvantaged. “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5). And again in Psalm 146:9: “The LORD watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow…”
Not long into widowhood it hits us: we are responsible for everything—paying the bills, house maintenance, and more. Most importantly, we are responsible for the godly path we walk. Although we have lost a beloved husband, we may have grown children with whom we can talk, and we can always seek guidance from God’s ministers.
Sometimes, after a husband dies, a widow might be left with financial difficulties and problems to solve. Still, no matter how devastating or difficult the situation may be, our hope is in God. He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). His resources are infinite, and He can work out every hardship if we trust in Him. He cares for us (Psalm 28:7).
After a while, we as widows can begin to realize that—despite our loss—God is moving us forward into a new developmental phase. We begin to stand on our own feet, and with God’s help learn to make good judgments and take responsibility as new opportunities present themselves. Our faith is strengthened as we trust in God and are led by His Spirit. As Marcel Proust once said: “Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”Some widows panic, pressuring their children to let them live with them and be “taken care of.” However, this does not always work out for the best, and it can cause problems. If a widow is in reasonable health, it may be best for her to maintain her own home. The key is to keep thinking outwardly, not inwardly. Consider Naomi in the book of Ruth. A widow, she had also lost her two sons. But she focused outwardly, on the needs of her two daughters-in-law (Ruth 1:8).
Many widows are kept very busy taking care of children and grandchildren who greatly occupy their time. Their service to their families is admirable. But even a widow without a family to take care of can engage herself profitably in serving God and serving others. Note the example of Dorcas, who kept herself busy being “full of good works and charitable deeds” (Acts 9:36).
Chapter 2 of Luke shows us the excellent example of a righteous widow named Anna. She had been married for just seven years when she was widowed, and at age 84 she was still a widow, serving her God and her nation by “praying and fasting night and day” (v. 37). As a result of her faithfulness, God blessed Anna by allowing her to see the young Messiah who would bring redemption to her nation and indeed to the whole world.
So, we as widows need not be downhearted. We can be joyful, profitable servants helping others and serving God’s Work until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.