and a time of God’s recompense on His enemies,
to comfort all who are in sorrow,
to strengthen those crushed by despair who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful bouquet in the place of ashes,
the oil of bliss instead of tears,
and the mantle of joyous praise instead of the spirit of heaviness.
Because of this, they will be known as
Mighty Oaks of Righteousness,
planted by Yahweh as a living display of His glory.
Isaiah 61: 2-3 TPT
A widow may find herself on the other side of her greatest fear after her husband goes home to Heaven. Life transitions can lead us to transformation, but the process can be very difficult. The life we knew is gone. Even in our darkest seasons, the world keeps moving. Beauty from ashes is a promise from God He can take any circumstance we encounter in this life and bring from it something good. Hope and growth is possible.
Sometimes even strong believer’s who know God, love God, and know God loves them more than we can even fathom, have moments when life’s tragedies cut so deep, they might wonder how this could happen. It might rattle their faith. Watching your husband wither away under the assault of a terminal illness, or having his life cut short in a sudden, fatal accident can trigger this kind of tragedy. A heap of ashes sits before you where all the dreams, hopes, and plans you had as a couple in love once stood.
This is far from the only challenge widows face in the wake of their loss, but it is of extreme importance. When we face things we can’t understand, it can be difficult to go forward without knowing why things are happening or at least having some kind of plan. Moving forward in faith in this situation can feel like giving our hand to God and closing our eyes. Blind faith is hard enough when you have your husband to stand with you. Suddenly finding yourself alone, in an intense grief-gripped chaos assaulting your mind, will and emotions, with your world turned upside down, all while the enemy (I like to call him the forever loser) is screaming in your ear lies about who God is… (that He must not care about you… that it is your fault… or whatever else he knows will cut your heart and sever that anchor you know God is) can frazzle the best of us.
Reclaiming life’s possibilities after entering the door of widowhood takes courage, hope, and healing. Fear of anything except the fear of the Lord keeps us from getting the breakthrough we need to pursue the good future God has for us. A determined heart focused on living life to glorify God will experience the tried and tangible hope and joy possible even in the midst of deep sorrow and loss.
The first passage of Scripture I found to anchor me in the early months and years after my husband moved to Heaven was from Psalm 139.
Wherever I go, Your hand will guide me; Your strength will empower me.
It’s impossible to disappear from You or to ask the darkness to hide me,
for Your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.
There is no such thing as darkness with You.
The night, to You, is as bright as the day; there’s no difference between the two.
You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything You do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly You know me, Lord!
You even formed every bone in my body when You created me in the secret place;
carefully, skillfully You shaped me from nothing to something.
You saw who You created me to be before I became me!
Before I’d ever seen the light of day,
the number of days You planned for me were already recorded in Your book.
Every single moment You are thinking of me!
How precious and wonderful to consider You cherish me constantly in Your every thought!
O God, Your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore!
When I awake each morning, You’re still with me.
Psalm 139: 10-18 TPT
I have no idea how many times I must have read this passage. It reassured me of God’s presence in my darkness, even when fear was telling me otherwise. When I felt powerless and broken, this reminded me I could borrow and use His strength. It ministered to my heart I could trust Him as my creator to understand the chaos of emotions that raged in and around me… I believe He loved me through it. When my heart anguished with why my husband was brought home so young…we had so many plans to serve God and His children… I found peace believing God knew much better than I could when and why it happened on God’s timetable.
The section of God planning how many days we live here later also became a promise to me. It inspired me to realize my own days are important and I want to honor God by fulfilling His purpose in my life to His glory. Then finally, the last section was also a healing balm to keep reminding me of God’s love for me. As friends and family relationships changed and the pit of emptiness inside me felt like it could swallow me, I needed to keep hearing God is with me every minute. He hears me. He understands my pain and grief. He’s not going to leave or forsake me no matter how many others do.
The truth is God never lets us down. Everything He leads us into He is ready and wanting to lead us through. The only option is to trust Him completely. We don’t know what the future holds. We can look back and remember how many times God was there in the past and made ways and things possible that didn’t look possible. He shows Himself faithful all the time. When we acknowledge and remember, we build our faith to believe right now too.
Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”
1 Samuel 7: 12
Lessons from Isaiah
Last week someone shared a passage with me from Isaiah I must have read over many times without seeing or hearing it. It was suggested as a good verse for a funeral, especially when a life ended sooner than we normally expect.
The godly perish, but no one seems to notice. The faithful ones are taken away, and no one understands. It is because of evil they are preserved from calamity, and the godly ones enter into peace, resting serenely upon their death beds.
Isaiah 57: 1-2 TPT
Isn’t it beautiful? I’ve always heard the Bible has answers to our questions if we just spend the time looking and learning. It spoke the question that bounces around in our heads because we want to understand why some faithful believers go home unexpectedly. God reveals it is to protect them from some coming evil. God secures them in peace with Him. We might not understand the why with the clarity we would like, but God makes it clear He is extending His grace and love for a reason. I believe when we join our love in Heaven one day, God will answer any and every question we have. For now, He gives us His Word to give us peace knowing God loves each of so much He is always going to do the best thing for us even when we can’t comprehend everything He knows went into that decision.
There’s another passage in Isaiah I refer to often when I don’t understand things happening. It is a good accompaniment to the one we just looked at. Most translations just say God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts, and His ways are not like ours. When I read this in my favorite, The Passion Translation, it reveals a new layer of understanding for me.
For My thoughts about mercy are not like your thoughts, and My ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so My ways and My thoughts are higher than yours.
Isaiah 55: 8-9 TPT
His thoughts about mercy. We serve a merciful and gracious God. The Bible tells us God is love. He thinks about us while filled to overflowing with love for us. This is why He thinks differently, and His ways are different. We try to think logically. Sometimes we are selfish in our thoughts. We are easily influenced by our cultures, upbringing, experiences, media, health, education, and so much more. God looks at it all through a lens of love and He knows everything. He knows so much more than we can possibly know unless He reveals it to us in some way. His judgement isn’t clouded by the world we live in that’s influenced by sin. That is precisely why we can trust Him.
let His love continually pour from you to one another,
because God is love.
Everyone who loves is fathered by God and
experiences an intimate knowledge of Him.
The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God,
for God is love.
The light of God’s love shined within us
when He sent His matchless Son into the world
so we might live through Him.
This is love:
He loved us long before we loved Him.
It was His love, not ours.
He proved it by sending His Son to be
the pleasing sacrificial offering to take away our sins.
1 John 4: 7-10 TPT
Here’s a wonderful verse to add to your daily prayers.
Honor Me by trusting in Me in your day of trouble.
Cry aloud to Me, and I will be there to rescue you.
Psalm 50: 15
God uses adversity to teach us about who we are. He also uses it to teach us who He is. Faith doesn’t deny reality. Faith believes God will help us change our reality to be in alignment with His plans and purposes for our life. God loves us. Sin and the forever loser cause catastrophes, pain, suffering and even death here on earth. Jesus told us:
And everything I’ve taught you is so the peace which is in Me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in Me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!”
John 16: 33 TPT
Lessons from Job
A great example to teach us and give us hope is Job. God calls Job a blameless man of great integrity. Job feared God, meaning he did all he could to honor God by how he lived each day, and stayed away from evil. God kept a hedge of protection around Job and prospered him greatly because he did this. Then a time came when the forever loser came and tested Job. Job kept his eyes on God and clung to his faith to get through it. There are some great lessons we can learn from Job.
Job wept. He grieved and was honest about his loss. He not only lost his crops, possessions and servants, he lost all his children. He responded by tearing his cloths, shaving his head, and bowing to worship God. He did not blame God. Then he was attacked again. This time physically with boils from head to foot. Still Job chose to worship God. When his so-called friends came to console him, they instead accused and judged him. After enduring this for a long time, Job grew weary of trying to defend himself and cursed the day he was born. He cried out to God for an answer.
God came and answered, putting Job in his place by making him realize how little he understood. Job immediately repented and told God he was nothing and he would cover his mouth and stop speaking. He realized he was not just trying to defend himself, his words were accusing God of being unjust. Job loved God and wanted to be immediately reconciled.
God responded to Job’s humility and repentance. He not only restored what Job lost, He gave him double for his trouble. I believe God includes the testing of Job to be a testimony of His faithfulness and to give us the courage and hope we need when we face similar trials and temptations. God also reprimanded those friends and told them they had to ask Job to pray for them so they could be forgiven, again honoring Job’s faithfulness.
God showed us we can reap joy when we sow in tears. I learned God hears our pain and wants us to share our hurt and everything we hold deep in our heart. Job learned more about God’s love too, and not just His love but His faithfulness. God took him through the season of difficulty into a season of beauty.
Job learned he needed to weed out misguided friends. Sometimes it takes certain seasons to reveal and expose that season is up. As a widow, there are relationships that altered because I changed and my life is not the same. God is providing new relationships for my life that’s going through a big renovation. He is awesome like that.
The biggest thing I learned from Job is he worshiped God. Worship is our weapon against the enemy. Worship is giving reverence or adoration to something or someone. It is holding a person or object in high esteem, or a place of big importance or honor. God loves it when we worship Him.
The Bible teaches us to overcome, not avoid. It teaches us to bend in the storms of life, not break, like a palm tree. Don’t allow your own past to hold your future hostage. Learn to celebrate every endeavor to start fresh and change for the better. Ask God to bless your best efforts, your life story – no matter how it began, or how it’s going right now. Remember who you are. Be open to new possibilities. Embrace hope to rekindle your magic and reclaim the world of possibilities waiting for you. Enjoy the journey to the joy and beauty you are going to find sprouting from the ashes of your past.
I pray you find something here to inspire your motivation to move forward. I pray if you’re struggling with some tough faith questions you find some light here to bring peace to your heart. God bless you.
Remember 2 Timothy 4: 7 by thinking 24/7.
Remember day and night to fight the good fight of faith, looking forward, and finish strong.