Several years ago now I made a presentation to a group of widows entitled, “What next, Lord?” It centered around those times in the lives of widows when they think they have reached the end of their rope. Life has thrown them some serious curve balls and, in anguish of spirit, they cry out to God, “What next, Lord?” In other words, “What other calamity do you have up your heavenly sleeve for me, God?” I don’t remember all that I shared, but I know that I shared encouraging insights from God’s Word to those dear women, reminding them that God’s mercies are new every morning. Recently a widow, referencing that speech, asked me, “What does God’s mercy include?” I have been pondering that and thinking how God’s mercies were made evident in the lives of women (some widows) in the Bible.
There are so many verses in the scriptures that speak of God’s mercies. The book of Psalms frequently references the mercies of God, often coupled with loving kindness and tender mercies. One verse that is often quoted is found in Lamentations 3:22-23: It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed; His compassions do not fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
(MEV) Matthew Henry in his commentary reminds us that one can become so used to grief that he forgets what joy feels like. He goes on to remind us that these verses instill hope in the child of God. Things may be tough in your life right now, but if it wasn’t for God’s mercy, they would be worse and His compassion will never fail.
|For my eyes have seen your salvation - Luke 20:30
Think with me on just a few Bible women who experienced sorrow, disappointment, or testing in their lives. .and then God’s mercy was manifest. Do you recall Anna the prophetess mentioned in the book of Luke? She had been a widow for many years and had dedicated her life to God’s work in the temple, looking forward to the coming Messiah, but at her advanced age surely not expecting that he would come in her lifetime. And then Jesus’ parents brought him to the temple to present him to the Lord and the hope within Anna’s heart sprang to life and God poured out His tender mercies on her and allowed her to hold His son in her arms. All those barren years of widowhood were forgotten with one touch of the baby’s tiny fingers. God’s mercy to Anna took the form of a small baby.
There’s the Old Testament story of David and Bathsheba, the death of their child conceived out of marriage . . . and then her son Solomon succeeded his father as king. God’s tender and loving mercies poured forth in her life in redemptive and restorative fashion to her grief and shame-scarred soul. Bathsheba’s mercy took the form of a kingly son.
|II Samuel 21:11
Then, there’s the story of Rizpah whose sons were killed to avenge a broken treaty, but whose bodies were disrespected by being left to rot on the gallows. Rizpah lovingly guarded these bodies until her actions were brought to the attention of King David who had them properly buried in their family plot. For Rizpah, mercy took the form of a proper burial for her sons.
|Eunice, the mother of Timothy
along with the Eunice's mother Lois
And last, I’m reminded of Eunice, the mother of Timothy, who along with her mother, instilled in Timothy a deep faith in God. I wonder if her faith was sometimes tested by Timothy whose father, as far as we can tell, was not a believer. Perhaps he questioned too much, or dabbled in the Greek teachings in his youth more than she would have liked. But she continued in her mission to see him place his trust in Jehovah God. For Eunice, as for many mothers, mercy took the form of a faith-filled young adult, mighty in the spirit of God.
Just as grief and hardship come in many forms, so too, the mercies of God. I know that you have experienced the grief and loneliness of widowhood. Perhaps this has resulted in many kinds of hardships for some of you; some greater than others. The one thing that I can tell you with complete assurance is that God’s loving mercies will take whatever form you need them to. To answer the widow’s question, “What do God’s mercies include?” They include whatever God knows it will take to restore hope, life, and trust to your heart. And remember, they will not fail, they are everlasting.
|Message by Shari Hervold