As we journey through life, one of the greatest sorrows we will face is the death of our spouses. Our disappointments, successes, accomplishments, and sufferings have always been shared by the one we love. Once he is gone, we enter the solitary life of widowhood.
Fortunately, this lonely journey of widowhood has been trod by many others before us. In the beautiful book of Ruth, we read of Naomi's becoming a widow while sojourning in Moab. Naomi allowed her sorrow to deepen the dedication she had for the Lord and strengthen her for the tasks which lay ahead. Realizing her difficult situation, she returned to Bethlehem accompanied by her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Naomi seized the opportunity to counsel her beloved daughter-in-law in the steps leading to her marriage to Boaz. By graciously accepting her advice, Ruth presented Naomi with a grandson, who became the grandfather of King David.
Widows in the Old Testament were regarded as being under God's special care, as we read in Psalm 146:9, "The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down." We also read in Psalm 68:5, "A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation." Proverbs 15:25 says, "The Lord will destroy the house of the proud; but he will establish the border of the widow." The Hebrews were commanded to treat widows with special consideration, and they were punished if they did otherwise. Exodus 22:22 reads, "Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child."
As we turn to the New Testament, we find Anna, a prophetess, who recognized and proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah when he was brought to the temple for his dedication. Luke 2:37 reads, "And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." The New Testament church looked after poor widows in Acts 6:1 and James 1:27. Paul gives instructions to Timothy about the care of widows by the church in 1 Timothy 5:4.
Many other examples of widows are recorded in the Bible for our learning. Those who have traveled this path before us have left signposts to mark the way and ease our journey. It is very important to learn from their examples, because most of us will face a similar path someday.
Living in our own neighborhoods and attending services of our congregations are faithful, God-fearing women, who have made the journey to widowhood. May we ever learn from these women who portray deeper spirituality and strength as a result of their tragedies and struggles. Many of them have expressed finding a balance between loneliness and a purpose in life. Discovering this purpose keeps them motivated and fuels their fire.
Our purpose should always be serving Jesus Christ and sharing him with others. The last steps widows take will not be their most joyous, but they will be their most courageous. May we ever find strength, trust, and courage in the promises of God from those who have previously taken those last steps alone. -Route 1, Box 109-A, Rivesville, WV 26588.
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