One of the first times in Scripture the word widow is used, the encouragement is clear, “You must not mistreat any widow or fatherless child” (Ex. 22:22). When God was birthing the nation of Israel, He made it very clear that His people would be a people who would practice justice and righteousness—in large part by caring for the alien (the foreigner or outsider in the land), the orphan, and the widow. In fact, this is a theme throughout the arc of Scripture. One of the last times in Scripture the word widow is used, the encouragement is equally clear, “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (Jas. 1:27). I pray that we, as Christ-followers, are taking seriously the admonition to care for widows (aliens and orphans) in our churches and our communities.
If you are a widow, I am so sorry for the pain of your loss. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.” Similarly, Psalm 147:3 says this, “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” The imagery of the Lord Himself carefully wrapping and bandaging up a wounded heart, your wounded heart, is so tender and comforting. Psalm 146:9 and Proverbs 15:25 both speak about the Lord protecting the widow. I pray you can give testimony to the ways He has done and is doing this for you. In fact, I encourage you to take a piece of paper and ask Him to bring to your mind the ways others have encouraged you with meals, cards, visits, or other acts of service and make a list of those things. How have you seen His fingerprints in your story of loss?
Oh, sister, you are not alone.
Consider some of the widows mentioned in Scripture. Their stories are a source of encouragement today. Consider Anna, the prophetess who, in her widowhood, served the Lord in the temple day and night (Luke 2). She was blessed to see the infant Jesus when Mary and Joseph presented Him in the temple. Remember Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David and from whose line Jesus would come. Remember the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17)? The Lord used her to provide for the prophet Elijah, and her oil was multiplied, and her son was raised! Don’t forget Abigail, Tamar, and Bathsheba. Jesus honored the widow’s gift in Mark 12, raised a widow’s son in Luke 7, and used a widow and an unjust judge in a parable about persistence in prayer (Luke 18).
These women’s lives and stories, deliberately and strategically included in God’s inspired Word, encourage us. These widows, like you, are resilient, generous, faithful, experienced, courageous, prayerful, tenacious, industrious, focused, and persistent.
Oh, sister, you are not alone, and you are not forgotten.
I’m married; my daughters are single—these are labels that describe us but do not define us. If you are a widow, it is a label that describes you but does not define you. “Widow” is not your identity. You are a woman of God who is chosen and called. Like the widows of Scripture, you have a purpose. Not sure what that is? First and foremost, your life is still a story and picture to others of the grace, goodness, and faithfulness of God. You are part of the priesthood of believers and your life is a “. . . living stone, a spiritual house . . . being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). Need to hear more? “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). In Joshua 4, when the people of God are crossing the Jordan into the promised land, Joshua instructed the men, one from each tribe, to take a stone from the middle of the Jordan and stand it up as a sign. Those standing stones were meant to tell a story. When the younger ones would ask why the stones were there, they would tell their story of God’s faithfulness and provision in their lives and how He made good on His promises to them. You are a standing stone. Your life is still telling a story of how God is making good on His promises.
Oh, sister, you are not alone, you are not forgotten, and you still have purpose.
One final word to those of us who are not widows. I asked a friend of mine recently, who is a widow, “What is encouraging to you?” This is what she said: “To meet other women who have traveled the same road. Lifting each other up through relationship and fellowship is encouraging.”
Friends, can we do this? Please! The Lord may be bringing someone to your mind right now who needs a call, a visit, or a word of encouragement. Please follow through. She needs you, and you need her.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through Lifeway Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. “I was a wounded, lonely Midwest farm girl until the Divine Romancer swept me off my feet. I want to steward my story well so that others can find Him in their stories and be fully satisfied.” Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live on Florida’s West Coast and are both on staff at Bayside Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the Lifeway resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.