Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought"1 (Lyrics)
James 1:27a – Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for … widows in their misfortune. (NET)
A friend of my wife lost her husband about three years ago to cancer. She has no children, and her remaining relatives are scattered, some nowhere to be found. So we make it a point to occasionally include her for dinner, especially during the holidays. Despite her loss, the smile on her face can brighten even a cloudy day because her focus is always on the Lord. It is a pleasure to have her in our company.
Widows are frequently mentioned in both the Old and New Testament economies. From the beginning, our creator God intended for the woman to be under the protective care of her husband. As a suitable helper, she complemented the man. But if the woman suffered the loss of her husband, she would then fall under God's provision. Scripture describes the Lord's position in this fashion:
Psalm 68:5b – A defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. (NIV)
Isaiah 54:4b-5a – The disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name. (NRSV)
A blessing was given to those who cared for widows:
Deuteronomy 14:28-29 – At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that … the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied. (NIV)
A curse was placed upon those who abused them:
Deuteronomy 27:19a – Whoever deprives … widows of justice will be cursed. (GWT)
Isaiah 1:17 – Learn to do what is right! Promote justice! … Defend the rights of the widow! (NET)
Unfortunately, throughout the gospels, we read of the Pharisees and Sadducees taking advantage of widows:
Luke 20:47a – They shamelessly cheat widows out of their property. (NLT)
Of the three people He spoke to on the cross, Jesus bade His disciple to care for a widow — His mother. James instructed the early church to visit widows in distress, and God's original intent is reiterated in Paul's epistle:
1 Timothy 5:3 – Honour widows that are widows indeed. (KJV)
Thus we observe throughout Scripture that God is very serious regarding the plight of widows. Apart from the extended family, the Church — the body of believers — should be sensitive, recognizing and supporting the well-being of widows. Perhaps an unexpected phone call or a card that simply states, "Thinking of you" or "You are in our prayers" may be sufficient to gladden the spirit of one. As a result, the Lord's joy and blessings may visit our hearts.
Prayer: Father God, open our hearts, quicken our consciences, and present us with opportunities to reach out in love to widows, who are special in Your sight. Allow our faith to come alive by our works. We ask this in Your Son's most holy and precious name. Amen.