She who is truly a widow, left all alone,
has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day,
but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.
1 Timothy 5:5-6 ESV
Did you despise the word the first time you heard it applied to you?
Were you repulsed by the classification?
The word is kind of a “show stopper”, so to speak. When you are asked about your husband and you respond with this word, the crickets can often be heard in the background! The conversation comes to a screeching halt. As my teens at home would say, “Drop the mic…”, meaning the show is over.
God made special laws concerning widows and their care by the Hebrew people. In the early days of the church, the Apostle Paul made special comments regarding their care. Sometimes I get caught in the “care” part, complaining why the “church” isn’t doing what Jesus taught “them” to do with widows, wishing the “church” would just meet my needs. But beyond their care, I found two types of widows discussed in the New Testament that are directly pointing at me. And as I studied it got personal real quick!
According to Scripture, widows can fall into two categories: consumed with prayer or consumed with self. The word “widow” is used over a hundred times in Scripture, so I took the time to read every verse in every chapter in every book, in context. Here are some of the descriptions:
- Place their hope in God (1 Timothy 5:5)
- Have a reputation of good works (1 Timothy 5:10)
- Busybody (1 Timothy 5:13)
- Self-indulgent (1 Timothy 5:6)
- Having passions that draw them away from God, their physical desires overpowering their devotion to Christ (1 Timothy 5:11)
- prayerful (1 Timothy 5:5)
There are no 10 Commandments of Widowhood to follow or a list of dos and don’ts of widowhood. For each of us it will look different. I must stop judging the other widow for her life – instead look at mine and see how I measure up to the list from Scripture. God may show me areas where I am a busybody in ways He hasn’t led me. God may show me areas where I can pray more or be more hopeful in ways He hasn’t shown me.
This is what it looks like for me today:
- “sets her hope on God“= my hope for the future cannot be linked only to the hope of a future husband and father for my children or the hope of financial security. I have to place complete trust in God who has written and redeemed my story from beginning to end, even when it doesn’t make sense here on earth.
- “continues in supplications and prayers, day and night“= I have fought the lack of sleep “beast” for about five years. I have taken various medicines to help with sleep but recently, in the last six months, I have changed my focus. I have decided God has gifted me these “wee hours” to pray. I pray for friends whose marriages are in crisis, for rebellious teens running from God, for widows with hopeless situations, for my own children, etc. My grandmother used to remind me to pray through the alphabet – A for someone whose name begins with A, B, C etc. I do not turn on lights or open my phone, just plain old-fashioned praying.
- “self-indulgent“= there are certain things I want to do for my own sanity but I don’t always have the money for them. I make sure I give money to my local church and pay all the bills first, of course. But after that, I might want to sit at coffee one morning with a friend, enjoying a breakfast scone and a latte. Or if money is tighter, it might just be sitting on a back porch with a fire in the chiminea, sipping on hot chocolate, talking over the day with another single parent. If you pray for God to show you if you are being “self-indulgent”, God will point it out to you clearly. If He has given you peace, then enjoy the sanity break and breathe in deeply.
I encourage you to pray over these verses today, and consider which of the two widows you are.
Let’s commit to being the widow of hope, the widow of prayer, the widow of good reputation. That is the path of true joy.
Lord God, I put my hope in You completely today. Take away the passions that pull me away from following You as closely as I can. Forgive me for judging others for their journey and open my eyes to my journey. Keep me close to You in prayer throughout the day and the night when I wake. And when You provide moments of relief, help me breathe deeply of the peace You send my way. Amen
Recently our team members Erika and Lori wrestled with some really tough issues dealing with the missing physical aspect of widowhood. You can read their articles here and here. They both made the point that each widow must look at her own life and ask God for discernment concerning areas that are not spelled out in Scripture.
Elizabeth Dyer is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries Inc. She resides in Oklahoma, amid earthquakes and tornadoes, giving her ample opportunities to trust God! Her six children, large dog, noisy cat, guinea pigs, and most recently, hermit crabs keep her busy enough, but she still finds time to have coffee now and then with a friend. Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and she loves to share how God is leading her on this new journey.
Would you like to read more articles by Elizabeth? Click here!
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This article first appeared on awidowsmight.org on March 9, 2016