Most of us are familiar with the stages of grief and, theoretically at least, realize that we have to go through them with the loss of any one close to us. But, I think widows are especially vulnerable to rushing this period because there is so much needing their attention, coupled with the fact that they don’t want to be too dependent on grown children, friends, or other family members. I have lost three siblings to cancer and, while I grieved their losses deeply, my day-to-day existence didn’t really change that much. Not so for the widow. When a woman loses her spouse,
Sometimes our concept of God is a result of our feelings at the time. Widows can feel abandoned by God so they think they are. However, Scripture is clear that God draws near to the brokenhearted. Have you noticed how the widow is always named in the lists that say that God is especially near to the helpless, and the orphans? God is especially near to you, but it is often difficult for the widow to believe this as her vision is clouded by tear-filled eyes and feelings that tell her otherwise. Our God will never abandon His child for any reason . . . even when you can’t feel His nearness. For God has said, “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b) Perhaps the following story from the life of the prophet Elijah will help demonstrate this.
In I Kings 19: 1-7 is the recording of an incident in the life of the prophet Elijah. Queen Jezebel had sworn that she would kill him and in great fear he fled for his life. He traveled a long distance on foot and flopped exhausted under a bush and prayed that he might just die. “I’m going to die sometime and it might as well be now,” he said. Now, that’s true despondency. The Scriptures tell us that he then fell asleep. Instead of answering his prayer for death, verses 5-7 tell us, “ . ...But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him to get up and eat! He looked around and saw some bread baking on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you.”
Ladies, you, just like the prophet Elijah, have received jarring news resulting in the death, not just of your spouse, but life as you know it. Elijah, seeing no way out, prayed for death. But, his loving Father hadn’t abandoned him and, in addition to needed rest, miraculously ministered to him by providing food and drink. But, He didn’t immediately order him to be on his way. Instead, he allowed Elijah to rest some more, and then provided more nourishment for him because He knew that a long journey awaited Elijah. This same loving heavenly Father is also concerned that you take the time to be whole before you start on your journey to what God has planned for you.
Let me remind you that society sometimes tells you things that are counter to your well-being. Marta Felber shares some of them in her book, Finding Your Way after Your Spouse Dies. I’ll list just three of them below.
§ “Time will heal.” (Time itself will not heal. It’s what you do with the time that will enable you to heal.)
§ “People who have faith don’t need to grieve the death of a loved one.” (God understands and grieves along with us.)
§ “You should be back to normal by now.” (No two grief experiences are the same. Also, you never return to “normal.” You are building a new life.)
Marta also reminds you to not let people pressure you into doing anything before you are ready. You, better than anyone, know that well-meaning people in your life are all too giving with their advice: “You should move from that big house.” “Why don’t you get rid of all his stuff.” “You should buy yourself a new smaller car.” “Take a cruise; it will do you good.” “What you need is a new man in your life.”
Some of them may be good decisions for the future, but you need to take your time in making big decisions and spend time with God, allowing His Holy Spirit to bring healing to your woundedness. God knows what lies ahead for you and He and only He can lead you into the new life He has planned for you. Don’t get ahead of Him because of outside pressures to “move on with your life.”
No one likes to wait. That’s why we have fast food chains littering our landscape. That’s also why we have physical and emotional relapses. We didn’t take the time to heal, to trust God for guidance and wholeness, and just rest in His timing. Trust me, you will live to suffer the consequences, just as stopping meds too soon will do to you.
Let me leave you with one verse of Scripture upon which to meditate (chew on) as you go through your day. Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)
By Matt Ward
By Chris Tomlin
By Chris Tomlin