Wisdom In The Wilderness
What is Widowhood?
Widowhood is the time period following the death of one’s spouse for as long as there is no remarriage.
What is a Widower?
- A widower is a man whose wife is dead and who has not remarried.
- The male counterpart of widow.
Biblical Example: Abraham
“She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.”
What is Mourning?
- Mourning is expressing deep sorrow or grief over the death of someone.
- The Greek word for mourning is klaio, which means “to wail.” “When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.” (John 11:31)
- A specific period of time during which signs of grief are shown.“When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father.” (Genesis 50:10)
- A custom was to wear black for a specific time of mourning.
- Flags are flown at half mast to indicate a national mourning.
What is Grief?
- Grief is deep sorrow caused by the loss of anything or anyone having a strong emotional value.
- The Latin word for grief is gravis, which means “heavy, grave.” “They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life. And the disciples were filled with grief.” (Matthew 17:23)
- Grief Facts
- Grief is a process.
- The deeper the emotional involvement, the deeper the grief.
- Grieving has no set time frame. It can last for months or even years.— God intends to heal our hearts when they are filled with grief. “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” (John 16:20)
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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WIDOWED
- Marooned feeling abandoned and deserted by mate
- Overwhelmed feeling unable to handle life alone
- Useless feeling without purpose in life
- Resentful feeling angry at God for allowing mate to die
- Numbness feeling unable to accept daily reality• Isolatedfeeling loss at not being a part of other couples’ activities
- Neglected feeling lonely and feeling misunderstood by others
- Guilty feeling remorse over past attitudes and actions“The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.”(Psalm 116:3)
Stages of Mourning
- Denial - an attempt to avoid the reality of mourning
- Anger - an emotional reaction to:
- Depression - an inability to find any hope for the future
- Bargaining a promise to be a better person if God will bring another mate to take away the pain of loneliness
- Acceptance - an ability to face life as a whole individual with confidence and a sense of purpose “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:19–25)
Causes of Pain
- loss of companionship
- lonely marriage bed
- lifestyle changes
- low self
- lack of healthy self
- locked into the past
- left to raise children alone
- limited financial resources
- living life through children
- looking for another marriage partner
Resisting God’s Grace for Healing “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”(Hebrews 12:15)
Wrong Belief: “Since my mate died, my life has little purpose, and I can’t face living the rest of my life alone.”
Right Belief: Although my mate has died, I will never be alone because Christ is always with me. I will lean on Jesus’ strength to get through each day, and I will look to Him for meaning and purpose in my life.“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (Psalm 18:32)
Do’s and Don’ts for Widows and Widowers
- Don’t let yourself be consumed with self-pity.
- Do … Learn contentment with your circumstances.“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)
- Don’t look for another marriage partner to take care of you.
- Do … Look to the Lord to meet your needs. “For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name.” (Isaiah 54:5)
- Don’t become consumed with false guilt.
- Do … Accept God’s grace for you. “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
- Don’t make major decisions while in grief.
- Do … Establish priorities.“[There is] a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
- Don’t compare your circumstances to others.
- Do … Focus on the role God has for you now.“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)
Growing Through Grace
- Recognize your grief.
- Know the stages of grief.
- Share your pain with another.
- Allow your inner feelings to show outwardly.“ ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ ” (John 11:34–36)
- Realize your insufficiency.
- Acknowledge your grief and pain to God in prayer.
- Admit you are powerless to carry the grief alone.
- Know you will realize “His sufficiency” through your insufficiency.“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)
- Relinquish control.
- Recognize God’s sovereign control over your life.
- Give your personal dreams and desires to God.
- Become more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit and yield to His control.“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6)
- Respond to God’s grace.
- Recognize that God loves you and has not deserted you.
- Spend time in God’s Word. Personalize and memorize key Scriptures.
- “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2)
- “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
- “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
- " ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)
- “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
- “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)
- “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5)
- Allow God to meet your emotional needs.“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
- Rebuild your life.
- Recognize that God has a new purpose for your life.
- Be active in church and fellowship with other Christians.
- Become involved in the lives of others.“The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)
- Special Ministries for the Widowed
- “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”(1 Corinthians 7:32–35)
- Fasting and praying in behalf of others
- “There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” (Luke 2:36–37)
- Counseling with godly wisdom “Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, ‘It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with his girls, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.’ ” (Ruth 2:22)
- Training others in sound doctrine and how to live a godly life “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:1–5)
- Working to meet the needs of others “So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.” (Ruth 2:17–18)
- Extending a generous and warm welcome to guests “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” (1 Kings 17:9)
- Recognizing and providing financial needs of Christians
- “As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’ ” (Luke 21:1–4)
- Recognizing and providing financial needs of Christians
Key Verse to Learn
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5)
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (Psalm 18:32)
Key Book to Read and Reread
The Book of Ruth
Responses of Two Widows: Naomi and Ruth
- Chapter One - Naomi
- Verse 8 - Thoughtfulness towards her daughter-in-law
- Verse 12 - Self-pity over her circumstances
- Verses 20-21 - Bitterness toward God
- Chapter One - Ruth
- Verse 16: Loyalty to her mother-in-law
- Verse 16: Submission to her mother-in-law
- Verse 17: Faith in God for her future
- Verse 18: Determination to be with God’s people
- Chapter Two - Naomi
- Verse 20: Gratefulness to God for his provision
- Verse 22: Wisdom for her daughter-in-law
- Chapter Two - Ruth
- Verses 6-7: Perseverance in her work
- Verse 10: Humility before Boaz
- Verse 12: Confidence in the Lord’s protection
- Verses 17-18: Responsibility toward her mother-in-law
- Chapter Three - Naomi
- Verse 1: Concern for her daughter-in-law’s future
- Verse 18: Discernment of God’s ways
- Chapter Three - Ruth
- Verse 5: Obedience to her mother-in-law
- Verse 11: Modesty before Boaz and others
- Chapter Four - Naomi
- Verse 9: Received Payment for her property
- Verse 10: Maintained the family name
- Verse 15: New zest for life
- Verse 15: Provided for in old age
- Verse 16: Gift of a grandchild
- Chapter Four - Ruth
- Verse 10: Became wife of Boaz
- Verse 10: Received protection of Boaz
- Verse 11: Received respect in the community
- Verse 13: Gave birth to a son
- Verse 17: Became part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ
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