In Her Shoes – Widows

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3

We’ve been given two more priceless gifts.  These testimonies honor God from a depth many of us have never experienced: widowhood.  And I do not take their words lightly. 

Just like everyone reading this article, and every woman we have learned from thus far, each and every widow has unique needs.  My prayer is that these testimonies will help you and I approach our widowed friends without fear, abounding in compassion. 

It’s been five years since that haunting and catastrophic event which brought my whole world to a crashing standstill.  On that fateful day, when I came upon my husband in a state of unconsciousness, little did I suspect that it was the end! The doctor’s pronouncement of death came as a real big blow and I was thrown into a state of shock and unbelief. How could it be, Emmanuel had not even complained of having a common headache! He was so hale and hearty up to the time that he retired to bed leaving me behind in our living room watching my favorite television show.

Picking up the pieces has not been easy. Thank God for the strong network within our community, family and friends stood solidly behind me which was wonderful. Standing on the word of God, my church played a very important role by offering me spiritual consolation. This was really useful and provided me with the needed strength to cope.

To all who find themselves in a similar situation, take heart and look up to God for succor. Rest assured, you are not alone and so do not succumb to depression or even give room in your heart for suicidal thoughts.
I urge you to be strong and make your spouse proud by making the best out of your life!
“The Lord . . . relieves the widow;”
Psalm 146:9

God has a special place in His heart for widows and fatherless children. The Israelites’ spirituality was measured, in part, by how they treated the fatherless and widows. There are many references in God’s Word to helping widows.

I did not anticipate that I would be in the widow category for a long time—in fact, I never thought about it. After my husband and I were married and moved to Bogotá, Colombia with our three small girls, we lived the life of busy missionaries as he was a church planter.  Our lives took an unexpected turn when he was killed one night by a thief as my husband walked home from a pastoral call.
It was while I was in probably the third legal office the next day, after we had found him in the police morgue, that it hit me. “I am a widow!” The tears began to flow, and the realization was not a pleasant thing. Things were going to change in a big way. I was so grateful that my mom was able to come down and help. The Colombian believers were my rock. They, too, were grieving, and we grew even closer as we journeyed through the experience together; and my missionary co-workers were the best friends and comforters, even as they were torn apart by the events. There were so many legal things to care for, practical things to care for, emotional and spiritual things to care for. And how in the world was I going to lead this family? I had always followed my husband’s lead.
In that time, God proved Himself mighty in our behalf. I call it the “Four Months of Miracles” as we prepared to come back to the States.  He went before us and took care of EVERY detail.  People were put into my way to comfort me, comfort my girls, give me advice, provide financially and legally, help me get ready for the future. It was one of the most awesome times of my life as I saw God powerfully work every day.  His Word was a balm to me and He gave me this verse: 
“Thou wilt guide me with thy counsel,
and afterward receive me to glory.” 
Psalm 73:24
In those four months the girls finished school, we gave back the rented house, we sold our house, we sold our car, and we had sales and packed up all our worldly goods to come back to the States. And when we came back, we stayed with my parents for one year while the girls went to high school, carpooling with church members who planned for us and worked out transportation for us.
I cannot say enough about our home church. They opened their arms to us and were there for us in every way.  One dear woman would come over about every week and take a walk with me, letting me talk and cry the whole time as we discussed things. The ladies had a surprise birthday party for me at a restaurant when I hit a birthday with a zero at the end—making something fun out of a sad day, as I thought about my husband never attaining that age.
There were men in the church that asked about maintenance details and came and fixed my toilet, blew insulation into the attic, and found the pipe leaking when the garbage disposal overflowed.  I felt the care of the church when my oldest graduated from high school, knowing that we were missing her dad. And even before she started dating her present husband, a favorite uncle declared that he would walk her down the aisle at her wedding; something that had never crossed my mind.
Sometimes it is hard for people to relate to widows, or relate to grieving people. That is understandable. Everyone goes through it differently.  It is better sometimes not even to talk, but just by one’s presence to show one’s support.  We want to talk about our spouse or father, so it is nice if someone even acts interested. It keeps their memory alive.
Don’t say, “If there’s anything I can do, just call me.” That is not going to happen. It’s really too nebulous. Offer something concrete, practical.  “Could I come over on Tuesday and bring some coffee and latte?” “Could we have lunch next Thursday?” Or offer to take the kids somewhere or come and play games with them. If your offers are rejected, don’t give up. Maybe it wasn’t the right time. Sometimes a hug is the best thing of all.
Widows may be living with heightened emotions, especially at first. Understand they may cry easily, especially thinking about holidays or birthdays or anniversaries or graduations. Don’t be embarrassed at their tears. Let them cry! Offer a Kleenex with a smile. If there is a banquet or special meal at church, invite her ahead of time to sit with you. Sometimes these are hard times as she thinks of sitting alone.  Or if she has no children at home, even sitting alone in church can be a hard thing.
After a few years, I had one lady ask me about my thoughts about marrying again (privately, of course). She asked if was time for her to be praying for me about this. She asked so tactfully and so sweetly. And I said, “Yes,” it was OK for her to pray that way for me.  Seven years after widowhood, God brought another godly man into my life—someone from my past. I had even dated him when I was a senior in high school. All my family knew him, so I didn’t even have to introduce him J.
It has now been 20 years since my first husband died. I was touched by my daughters’ ways of remembering him and their memorials to him. They had different ways of doing it. Because of their experiences, they are so empathetic and gentle with people.  I wrote them all and told them how much I loved them. The pain of the separation never goes away. But the intensity does. With time, God softens the impact and in the process makes us more like His Son. God is so wonderful! He is a husband to widows, and He is the best one of all.
 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble,
and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
James 1:27
To read more verses about how God cares for widows, click here.  Thank you with all my heart, dear Sisters, for taking time to share your widow journey with us. 
If you are interested in contributing to upcoming articles, or if you have ideas for future articles, please contact me on Facebook or email me at saraleighanne (at) juno (dot) com.  Thank you! 

Joyfully His, Sara


5 thoughts on “In Her Shoes – Widows

  1. Thank you for your comments and ideas! KS, I think you have a great idea. I'm going to add it to the “In Her Shoes” schedule.


  2. I like this “series” you're doing. I would love to see one about women who are married to unbelieving men.


  3. I can't imagine going through all that. It's neat to see that God was with you all that time. Thank you for telling us about your life.


  4. Thank you for sharing what God has done in your life. Your testimonies have helped me know better how to reach out to widows I know. Before I was a little afraid of what to say. You have made me appreciate my husband and our time together more. And you have taught me that God can help us through the worst of circumstances – to come out on the other side stronger and still praising Him. May God bless you both! Thank you!


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