Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”
“Often God seems to place His children in positions of profound difficulty -- leading them into a wedge from which there is no escape…you may be thus involved at this very hour. It does seem perplexing and very serious to the last degree; but it is perfectly right. The issue will more than justify Him who has brought you hither. It is a platform for the display of His almighty grace and power. He will not only deliver you, but in doing so He will give you a lesson that you will never forget and to which, in many a Psalm and song in after days, you will revert. You will never be able to thank God enough for having done just as He has.”
F. B. Meyer
Today’s Study Text:
“The Lord protects and preserves the strangers and temporary residents. He upholds the fatherless and the widow and sets them upright.”
Psalm 146: 9
“A Home In Zarephath – Part 3
How God Treats Widows and Women Forsaken”
“God’s children are God’s children anywhere and everywhere, and shall be even unto the end. Nothing can sever that sacred tie, or divide us from His heart.”
The Fatherhood of God Sermon
Do I know what it means to be forsaken and if so, where did I feel I could turn so I didn’t feel so alone?
“In His love He clothes us, enfolds and embraces us. That tender lover completely surrounds us, never to leave us.”
Julian of Norwich
“Fear not, for you shall not be ashamed; neither be confounded and depressed, for you shall not be put to shame. For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall not seriously remember the reproach of your widowhood any more. For your Maker is your Husband -- the Lord of hosts is His name -- and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth He is called. For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken, grieved in spirit, and heartsore -- even a wife wooed and won in youth, when she is later refused and scorned, says your God -- with great compassion and mercy I will gather you to Me again.”
Isaiah 54: 4-7
If someone asked you this question, “How do you know God is love, as He claims to be,” what would your answer be?
I begin our “Inspiration” with this question because it is one that I’ve been asked repeatedly through the years by friends and family members, as well as business associates, clients and staff who have told me, before they asked me this question, that they did not believe in God. Flat out! For them, God didn’t exist and furthermore, if He just happened to be some being out there in space, He was certainly an out-of-touch, uncaring person whom they had written off because of, “all the bad things that happen in the world.”
As I would, most frequently try to do, I’d often ask them a very personal question. And here it is. “Has there ever been a time in your own life when you wished God was out there or even closer to you so He could help you out because something was happening in your life that really hurt you?”
Every time, without fail, the individual with whom I was talking, would share with me a rather detailed story about an event they had endured where they felt that if God had existed, He had really pulled the rug out from under their feet, leaving them to lie on the floor writhing in pain. This, frankly, is the only descriptive picture I can think of which begins to illustrate the often agonizing recollection that would be shared with me. What I’ve found is that all of us have, deep inside us, heart-rendering experiences that color our lives, affecting decisions and even blocking the channels of healing at times.
After a recent outpouring from an individual, I almost thought for a moment that my question may have gone too far, and then, just as the last gasp of the hour long conversation came to a conclusion, this person looked at me and said with tears in their eyes, “I bet you got more than you asked for, Dorothy, but thanks for listening. I’m glad I got that off my chest and thanks for not telling me I’m going straight to hell for feeling this way.”
With that response, I rethought why it seems to some that God is so unkind and ungracious. What some have called the “Big Meanie In The Sky.” As one boyfriend told me years ago, “At least that guy is way up there and hopefully is too busy to mettle in my life.”
Hearing about and responding to negative perceptions of God, my Father, has served only as a catalyst to me to take more time to study about the qualities that I find not only present, but so endearing in my Abba Father, as Julian of Norwich in the 14th century poignantly wrote:
“He is to us everything which is good and comforting for our help. He is our clothing who wraps and enfolds us for love, embraces us and shelters us, surrounds for His love which is so tender that He may never desert us.”
This is the God whom I trust. And this is the God who has so graciously embraced me when no one else was around. It is from this starting point, that several months ago, I began to uncover the tenderness which our heavenly Father repeatedly displays toward all of His children but especially those who have been cast aside and forgotten in their lowest moments.
Beginning in the book of Deuteronomy, there is a Biblical treatise, written by Moses, a prophet of God, who as we are told, “knew (God) face to face” (Deuteronomy 34: 10, K.J.V.). With this illumination regarding the relationship Moses enjoyed with God, the words he left behind, describing the care God instructed His children to take in protecting, especially the fatherless and the widows, it should mean even more to us as God’s character radiates His compassion for those who are left to live without a father’s or a husband’s love.
Just to help me gain clarity about God’s deep and abiding concern for widows, in the writings of Moses, we find the word, “widow” mentioned fifteen times. And the expression of unselfish kindness in nearly everyone of these passages is reflected by the words in Deuteronomy 24: 17, 19-22:
“Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge…When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondsman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.”
As I read this passage, which I might add, contains instructions which appear throughout the Old Testament, I was struck by the detail given to Moses to share with the children of Israel. Details that specifically referenced the kind of care which God wanted to make certain His precious children, especially the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow would receive.
But last night, before I attempted to go to sleep, I believe God put a thought into my mind as I prayed. And it came to me because in just the last five days, over ten of God’s precious daughters have sent in prayer requests that told in great detail, the suffering they are enduring, having been abandoned by or unexpectedly served with divorce papers from a husband who promised to be faithful yet now has found someone more to their liking. This painful fact got me to contemplating about the way divorce, for many women, is a form of widowhood for there are frequently times when the loss of a spouse is not desired by one party or the other. In particular, every woman, in the ten who told me about the hurtful experience they are going through right now, did not want a divorce.
When I awakened this morning, my Garden blessing, my precious angel Myrt Grimm in Finland, who herself sustained the painful death of her spouse a number of years ago, during the night while I was sleeping, sent me an email with the passage from Isaiah 54 where our loving Father, wraps His arms around all His girls who have sustained loss, and He tells us: “No one will reproach, blame, or disrespect you as a widow. What’s more, my dearest daughter, you will not be forsaken or left grieving and heartsore (don’t you just love that!), For I won’t walk-off like a husband who dumps you for somebody better. And just a reminder -- there’s no one better than you in my eyes!”
Now, for a moment, let’s go back to my initial question: “How do I know God is love -- as His word claims?”
Well, I’ll just tell you something -- real love is exhibited by one who is there for you when you are down-and-out. When you’ve lost the dearest person you have. When you have been left holding the bag -- and the bag is empty!
It’s the person who steps in to lift you up when you have no one there to help you. That’s what love is all about. And it is why I know God is love -- for He will never leave His daughters alone -- no matter what happens!
God Alone Suffices
“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing dismay you.
All things pass
God never changes.
all that it strives for.
Those who have God
find they lack nothing.
God alone suffices.”
Teresa of Avila
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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