Monday, December 12, 2011

Widowed but wed

5:03 p.m. Today's project was to set up my table for our annual "Widows' Might" Christmas dinner. This elegant but cozy dinner for 21 will be starting soon in our church's sanctuary. I normally would stay to serve my table, but with a cold today, I didn't want to make the ladies sick. I'll return to clean up when the event closes.

The leaders of our Piecemakers quilting, crocheting and general crafting and hospitality ministry, Jill and Vicky, also plan and design this event. Our widows meet twice a month on Sunday afternoons. I love the scripture that the name of the group came from, Luke 21: 1-4:

And He (Jesus) looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the (Temple's) treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had."

These two lepta, Greek coins, were the tiniest of copper coins. What great faith this widow had! She had learned to lean on, trust in, and rely on her God! The Bible has many stories of God's especially tender care of widows, because without a husband to work and support her, this was a very difficult circumstance to be in, especially if a widow had no children to take her in.  In Deuteronomy 10:17-18, God describes Himself as

God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow...

When widows Ruth and Naomi returned from Moab to Judah, the landowner where Ruth gleaned grain for her mother-in-law ordered the reapers to drop extra grain on the ground for her (Ruth 2:16). And Elijah, commanded by God to go to "Zarephath which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you (I Kings 17:9).  The widow, a Gentile, was preparing her and her son's last meal, but in faith, fed the prophhet first. God rewarded her by miraculously providing oil and flour for the entire time of the regional drought, 3 years. Later, Elijah brought her dead son back to life!

In Luke 7:11, Jesus raised the son of a widow in the city of Nain from the dead during his funeral procession. And the feeding and provision for widows was one of the first administrative decisions made by the apostles in the early church, Acts 6:1. Yet widows had a responsibility to behave in a godly manner in order to receive assistance, I Timothy 5:3:

Honor widows who are really widows...Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.

Does this remind you of Anna, the elderly widow and prophetess mentioned in Luke 2:36-38, who had the honor of testifying over the baby Jesus at the time of His temple dedication?

...she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem. 

There isn't a married woman alive, no matter her age, who doesn't wonder what will become of her should she lose her husband. Military action, car accident, or death after a long illness can place any one of us in this position. Prayerfully, if we have been faithful and godly (not perfect!) wives, we will be blessed when that time comes with comforting memories of working and building a family together, serving in ministry together, and enjoying life as one flesh.  I suppose the thought comes to me more often now, with my husband the victim of the rapidly progressing, incurable disease of Alzheimer's. But I am not panicked, obsessed or living in dread. I certainly pray to have my husband with me for as long as possible, with the two of us communicating and in relationship for as much of that time as God wills it so.

And I pray for a miraculous healing every day!

Isaiah 54:5 says to a barren and widowed nation,

For your Maker is your husband,
The LORD of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy
  One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth. 

Should the Lord Jesus delay His coming, and I become a widow, not only am I a bride of Christ, but I will have a wonderful, inspirational group of sisters waiting to envelop me in their sweet arms of fellowship!

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