"He (The Lord) upholds the fatherless and the widows and sets them upright."
Psalm 146: 9, Amplified Bible
"One Is A Lonely Number"
"Once you have lived with another, it is a great torture to have to live alone."
Have the grief and sorrow of loss touched my life?
If so, how have I dealt with feeling alone?
"Be open to the night…
Pray with open hand, not
with clenched fist…"
It was nearly 25 years ago when my father died suddenly. He went out for an evening walk and dropped over dead of a heart attack.
This unexpected loss, as you can image, caught our family by complete surprise and left us in total shock. For my mother, who had known my father from childhood, this loss became an almost unbearable load. Her health, both physically and emotionally, suffered for some time.
Losing someone whom you deeply love and have lived with, someone you expect to share your entire life with, can be devastating. But when your entire financial basis as well as legal standing in society is torn away from you too, the pain is only intensified. This was the way life was for the widow who came to the Temple to give a gift.
Historians describe the society the widow lived in this way:
"Since Israel was a male-dominated society, women's rights were sometimes overlooked. Jesus told of a widow who had to pester a judge to take time to listen to her side of a legal case (Luke 18: 1-8)."
But widows were also given some privileges. They could glean in the fields after harvest (Deuteronomy 24: 19-22) and along with the Levites, they were to be able to share a portion of the third-year tithe. Most likely, this is due in part to the fact that the finances were usually controlled by the husband of the family. And so it was difficult, if the husband was the sole breadwinner, for the wife to survive financially if she lost her income.
God did not intend, however, for widows to find themselves in a desperate plight. Throughout Scripture, one of the most pronounced judgments is on those who forget the "fatherless and widows" for it is obvious from God's instruction that His heart of care and concern contains a special place for those who are alone and then forgotten.
This fact gives even more emphasis to the story of the widow for as Jesus said, "She gave all - everything she had." This was even when, as the Bible states, "she was poverty-stricken."
While some may use this story to encourage people to give donations, as I have often heard, I believe the lesson of this story is an exhortation from Jesus to you and me on the value of every person - especially widows who are alone and need financial and emotional assistance.
The words of the apostle Paul in Romans are meant to inspire and invite us to a life of unselfish generosity at all times. "We should not please ourselves. Instead, we should all please our sisters and brothers for their own good…for Christ did not please Himself" (Romans 15: 1-3).
There's no time when people need our help more than during the pain of loss. I know because I saw firsthand how the love and kindness of family and friends renewed my mother's spirit at a time when her life seemed as though it had fallen apart.
May our lives, daily be a fulfillment of this prayer by H.R.L. Sheppherd: "O Father, grant us grace not to pass by suffering without eyes to see. Give us sympathy that we may enter into the suffering of others. Use us to gladden and strengthen those who are suffering, that by our lives we may help others and shed forth Thy light which is the light of life."
A Widow's Psalm
"I will thank the Lord from the balconies;
From the rooftops I will shout God's praise.
Despair was the root of my existence;
Hopelessness was the core of my being.
I wailed in the emptiness of my dwelling;
I cried alone to the walls.
Then the God of those who live alone
heard my plea;
My mourning reached the ears of God's sanctuary.
God delivered me from my distress;
The Lord gave me companions;
My isolation was relieved.
With all my breath I will sing God's praises;
With all my time I will serve the Lord.
With all my mind I will consider God's mercy;
With all my heart I will love the Lord.
The Reverend Canon Barbara J. Price
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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