Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Needy .. the Orphan ... the Widow

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

It was in that Texas church this October, with hundreds of voices filled with worship to the Father that God stirred in me a deeper burden for the widow. With boldness, passion and truth, the Together 4 Adoption team ministered to us about the needs of the NEEDY, the ORPHAN ... the WIDOW. It wasn't just an adoption conference .... oh no ... it was so much more than that.

My mind drifted to my grandparents, as we knew my grandpa was in his final days here on this earth. But little did I know that after his passing, 9 days later, my own dad's wife would becoming a widow as well.

Often, my heart as been drawn to James 1:27 and how God groups the widow and orphan into that same sentence. For a long time now, our family has been face-to-face with the needs of orphans. We have been a voice for them, prayed for them, clothed them ... brought them home. But so similar are the needs of widows. And the same things seem to keep us distracted from meeting their needs.

One thing I've witnessed is that it really doesn't matter if a person becomes a widow at a young age or at an older age ... the pain is just as excruciating. The day-to-day factors and obstacles might be different .... but the gut-wrenching need is the same.

Just as we're all called to do something to care for orphans ... we are all called to do something to care for widows. It doesn't matter if that widow is a dear, treasured friend ... or someone we weren't very close to. We are called to CARE, to ACT ... to SERVE.

It is hard to imagine all the changes that occur in a person's life when they enter that status. For each person it's unique ... but stop a moment and think what that might look like if it were you.

You'd roll over each morning, as you have thousands of times before and no longer would your loved one be there. Each day you'd be smacked in the face with the reality that you are now alone. No longer would you take turns getting your morning shower. There would be only need for one coffee cup and one bowl for cereal from now on. When you paused to give the Lord thanks for the day .... your heart would still reach out to grab your mate's hand ... yet your hand would now be empty.

No longer would your car be warmed and your door opened by that one that stole your heart many years ago. No, now you'd have to depend on others to care enough to come and do those things for you. Areas you want so much to be independent with, you might find yourself forced to give up that independence because of your own declining health. Oh how much easier it was to depend on your soul-mate to take over those areas than it is a stranger.

You find yourself opening your mouth, merely out of habit, to tell your loved one something that came into your mind. Then you glance over and remember .... he is not there ... his chair sits empty. There is now no one to share those little day-to-day events with ... unless you get the courage to pick up the phone and reach out to someone ... or if it's a good day, maybe someone will remember to call you.

For the younger widow the details and realities look different in some ways ... yet the pain and emptiness inside is very similar. For her there are often insurmountable financial concerns, children to still parent and heartache no human should be asked to go through alone.

Yet often, just as with the orphan, the widow faces this journey so very alone. Oh sure, at the time of our loved one's passing the crowds come ... they pay their respects .... they genuinely pour out their love and compassion. But in the weeks and months and years to come ... often the widow is faced with a greater depth of aloneness than they have ever known. The quiet they now hear can be absolutely deafening.

I'm convinced that much of what keeps us away from meeting their needs is our busyness. We have jobs, children to care for, places to go, things to do ... all valid, yet I'm convinced our busyness can be like a disease. We are often so self-consumed that we leave no room for the needs of others. So busy we are chasing after our own dreams and pleasures that it's just really easy to not listen to that still, small voice in us telling us there are others with greater needs than our own.

The widow goes from being touched and hugged daily to who knows when. It might be days or weeks between visits from a loved one, when for the last 70 years they've hardly ever been alone.

I had the blessing of visiting my grandma today. As I struggled to pull out of the driveway, I found myself asking the Lord to teach me about His heart. For the past several years He has taught us much about the needs of orphans. In His great faithfulness, two of grandma's little visitors today were precious ones that used to be orphans. I hope I get to go back soon ... if nothing more than to just offer that hug and remind her she is loved.

What about you ... who is in your life the Lord might be asking you to serve? Perhaps there's a little room at your Christmas table for one more this year. Maybe a phone call or note of encouragement would brighten the day of someone you know.


  1. What a wonderful tribute to widows. May God bless you with all areas of you ministering to others including Grandma.

  2. Excellent post. You certainly hit the nail on the head.