(Written by Lexie, a guest blogger, based on her true story – sending hugs your way Lex, my prayers are with you and your family this trying period xoxo)
I started out this day thinking about widows.
A widow is who my mother has become.
She just released her husband, who had been battling with a year-long debilitating illness into the hands of his Creator, this month. It was just a woman’s plea to stop the suffering of her spouse. I am not sure she had counted the cost of widowhood.
No marriage is without its ups and downs, mad days and glad days. And yes, my family had its share. After my father retired to our country home away from the frenetic pace of Lagos, my parents never spent more than a month in the same house. The distance took its toll on their relationship and the responsibilities that each expected from the other, made it easier to play the blame game.
Now there is a hollowness that comes when the significant other is gone. Yes it is easier to blame someone when they are alive and fail to act responsibly towards you. But when they are dead, there is a vacuum no one can fill and no one else to hold responsible. So, now, it is different. There is no one for my mom to blame, except may be herself. How she could have done better, lived better, loved better.
In some way losing a spouse is like having a divorce. It separates you from the one that you have been joined together with, before the eyes of God. There are memories that have been made, projects that have been done and the many lives that been affected by the union of two persons working as one, whether agreeably or disagreeably. The implication that the significant other is no longer around is devastating. I guess that is why lives that are entwined like Siamese twins, never last long after the one of them leaves the scene. Soul separation is hard for humans to bear without solace.
The despair and loneliness that fills the heart of each widow is something that God our Father cares so deeply about. Over 100 verses in the scripture talk about caring for widows. Each time I thought of the word, widow, I saw a woman who just lost a husband, who has to raise her kids and fight to survive on her own in this world. I never really saw her as losing her covering and her defender. I never imagined the depth of loss and the feeling of no protection or defencelessness that comes over a woman.
So who is a widow? She is first of all a woman.
It does not say that she is a nice woman. It does not say she is pretty woman, or a cantankerous woman, or a loving woman, or even a hag.
The Bible simply makes it clear that she is a woman who has lost her defence.
It means that irrespective of whatever the character of this woman in your home or community is, God’s heart is breaking for her and He is calling us to express His love at a deeper and more personal level than before. To protect her, defend her, cover her. To communicate the God kind of love that proves to her that God will take care of her needs through his people.
Jesus is merely passing by a village and notices a funeral procession. He sees this widow going to bury her only son. She is a first of all a widow, having already lost her husband and has come to rely on her only son. The same son who now lies dead. That is a widow in grief – with a kind of plummeting despair that only God knows its depths. Jesus doesn’t just feel that grief or commiserate with her pain instead his own heart is touched with compassion towards her. He doesn’t offer condolences. He raises her covering and brings to life her defender.
1 Timothy 5 and James 1 refer to the widows and our responsibility towards those widows in our family. It calls us to take the responsibility for those in our own house who are no longer young enough to feel the warmth of another man’s love and protection. Even though there is an expectation that the woman herself should not make it more difficult for her care giver, God still expects us to show that He cares. That kind of love is a marathon love. It is a love that calls you to count the cost and brace up to bear it all the same. It is not just one random act. Not a 100m dash show of love, just do one thing and get on with the rest of your life. It is enduring love.
Long after the funeral rites have been performed, the mourning period is over and friends have moved on to live their lives. The process of widowhood is far from over. Sometimes the despair creeps up from time to time, threatening to overwhelm because of some pressing need that the deceased could have filled.
It is in those moments that showing acts of enduring love and unexpected kindness touches another human soul like never before. It testifies that God is involved in her need and is still her defence. It is in those moments that your God kind-of-love is most felt, because it resonates so loudly in her soul that Immanuel, her Kinsman Redeemer, has appeared with skin on.
If you are a widow, then it is my sincere prayer that you will experience God as your Defender and your Champion. There is not a tear you shed or a prayer that you utter that he does not see or hear. He has chosen to step in as your husband and still cares. Not a hair falls off without his knowledge and not a day goes by without his provision. Yet, He needs you to trust him to provide your needs, by sometimes meeting the needs of another. I encourage you to look for ways to bless others, so that you can experience his strength and provision in a greater dimension.
If a widow has family members to take care of her, let them learn that religion begins at their own doorstep and that they should pay back with gratitude some of what they have received. This pleases God immensely – 1 Timothy 5:3-4