Very few books about caring for widows have been written, but the Bible has about eighty direct references to widows. Widows are mentioned when you read the books by Moses and the prophets, the Psalms, the Proverbs, the four Gospels, Acts and in many of the letters to the churches in the New Testament. There are several stories of widows God chooses to help supernaturally such as with healings, raising a child from the dead, and feeding through a famine. In the case of Ruth and Naomi, God provided the child who would be the grandfather of King David and in the lineage of Jesus. However, it’s important to note most of the references are God’s admonition to care for widows.
True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us. James 1: 27 CEB
Why? God cares about the plight of the widow, largely because many widows find themselves vulnerable and suddenly without the resources and finances they depended on their late husband for. He also understands the impact on her heart—broken and shattered—sending her emotional health into a possibly life-threatening tailspin. Jesus only did what He saw His Father do. He took the time when He was dying on the cross to ask His disciple John to take care of His mother—knowing she was a widow and would need him.
When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” John 19:26–27
National Widow’s Day was started by Widow Wednesday to raise awareness and encourage people everywhere to remember the widows in their communities and lives. What an incredible act of love we offer when we take a moment to notice the widows in our midst. We let our hearts be stirred with compassion. Choose to honor God’s heart by taking time to make a difference in the life of a widow. National Widow’s Day is May 3.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 10: 42:
And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.
A cup of cool water represents any kindness we extend to someone. Wrapping a hug around a widow who desperately misses the hugs she once treasured from her husband might be the most meaningful thing you could possibly do. Offering your smile could spark a twinge of hope that feels out of reach. Remembering, while being patient and sensitive, the important dates on the calendar that could be shrouded in painful or compelling memories with your presence, gifts, or a call or text message might soften the hurt and help shape new memories to ease the journey to healing.
It’s so important to remember everyone grieves differently. Don’t compare loss. Loss in a job, divorce, or business is not the same. Even losing pets, other family members or friends are very different from the death of a husband. The kindest way to help a widow is to allow her to be whatever it is she needs to be at the moment. Even of it feels uncomfortable for you, consider the possibility it is likely even more uncomfortable for her. Try not to judge or set rules or time limits for her to heal. Don’t make offers to meet or talk and never follow up. Don’t just say call if you need something… realize she might not have the strength or ability to ask for help with things. A staggering number of widows feel abandoned and very much alone.
I read a story in February that really touched my heart. It was titled, Mom Surprises 400 Widows with Flowers on Valentine’s Day. Ashley Manning, together with a team of volunteers, delivered flowers and gift bags to 400 widows across Charlotte. Ashley loves flower arranging and had the idea to share her gift and involve others to join her to bless women who wouldn’t be receiving any gifts on Valentine’s Day from their late spouse. I can only imagine the joy she and her group triggered in the hearts of those widows who received the gifts they brought.
How delighted our Heavenly Father must be with the incredible people who give their time, energy, talents, and resources in the ministry of the churches who participate in Widow Wednesday, and with the kindness and respect wonderful people like Ashley Manning and her friends show when they take the commission of caring for widows to heart and make a real difference. I’m sure there are many others (like our very own Hope for Widow’s Foundation) who make the effort to engage in the lives of widows to extend a helping hand, listen to their stories, and acknowledge their grief with compassion.
Who are the widows in your life? Maybe it’s your own Mom, sister, or friend. Perhaps you noticed a funeral announcement at church and learned someone was alone now. There are many news stories of families broken apart when death comes knocking. Or possibly, because it hasn’t impacted you personally, you haven’t really noticed or thought about who a widow is… or how much she might be hurting or in need.
On this National Widow’s Day, I encourage you to offer a widow in your life the gift of your attention. Help them feel seen and valued. Even if it has been several, or even many, years since they had their husband by their side, I assure you that absence weighs on her heart and invades her thoughts. God will reward you richly for your kindness. Even more importantly, you could be rescuing someone… God is compassionate to the weak and broken. Sometimes discouragement and sadness drain our strength. Sometimes the very days set to be filled with the joy of family and celebration instead put a spotlight on the place in our heart where only memories of loved ones live. Widows are a work in progress, crossing a bridge between our past and our present. God understands our human frailty. He holds us and speaks His life and love over us. God uses people who are willing to be used to encourage us forward to the good future He has for us. Today is a good day to care enough to love a widow. God bless you.
**Have you heard about Hope for Widows Foundation’s annual Restoring Hope & Peace Grant program? It was established by the organization in 2019 to help widowed women offset financial challenges as they navigate their healing journey. You can find out details, timeline and the history of this grant here: https://hopeforwidows.org/grant/ All widows based in U.S. and Canada are encouraged to apply. Applications open on National Widows Day, May 3, 2022. For additional questions feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org **