by Nancy Wilson
"For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts is His Name" (Is. 54:5).
When young women make their wedding vows, they are seldom pondering how they will prepare for widowhood. And yet, many women, sooner or later, do become widows. My neighborhood is filled with large, older homes that house lonely little widows.
Our Lord obviously had a tenderness for widows; we see His concern for them in His condemnation of hypocrites. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation" (Matt. 23:14). And James reminds us how important widows are to God. "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).
Women need to understand some important principles that will help them now, equip them for later, or just enable them to encourage widows they know. What are some of these principles?
First of all, it is fundamental that every Christian woman comprehend that "your Maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name." If you are a child of God, you are part of the Bride of Christ. Your Maker is your Husband. Christ is the Head of the church, collectively, and He is consequently the Head or Husband of each of His elect. If you are a single woman, you have a Husband; if you are a widow, you have a Husband; and if you are married, you have an earthly husband, one who is a picture of your heavenly Husband, Christ. Though Christian wives are commanded to respect and submit to their earthly husbands, they must do so in submission and obedience to their heavenly Husband, Christ. He is your Physician, your Advocate, your Priest, your Shepherd, your Husband. Though earthly husbands may be called away from families through death, your heavenly Husband has promised never to leave you or forsake you.
Wives, while your earthly husband is alive, cultivate biblical thinking about this. Good doctrine will be a tremendous help to you in trial. Believing and learning the right things about God are like storing up provisions for a famine. When affliction comes you will have a good store of grace available.
Not only must you have a solid grounding in your doctrine on God's relation to you, you must also believe the right things, the biblical teaching on His control over all things. The Scripture's teaching on His absolute sovereignty will be a comfort and a protection for you if your husband is taken from you. Did God do this? Is He a loving Father? Could He have kept my husband from dying? Why didn't He? It is far better to learn the answers to these questions now. Then when difficulties come, you will not be shaken in the fundamentals of the faith. Store up His promises now, and you will remember them later--like Christian did in Doubting Castle, when he found the key of promise in his pocket. I have a precious friend who is a young widow, and she has taught me much about God's faithfulness to those who trust in Him. His promises are very real to her; they are like a lifeline that keeps her afloat day after day.
After settling the importance of a solid theological foundation for widows, other principles for living must also be learned. One principle is found in Titus 2:11-12--"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age." Here we see that we must learn to say "no" to ungodliness. Widows must learn to say "no" in all kinds of situations, and they must teach their children this as well. A husband is a tangible protection to the wife. When he is taken away, she becomes suddenly vulnerable. People who were hindered from being a nuisance by the husband's presence, now feel free to say and do what they like. A godly woman must not be reluctant to say "no" to many things. Some may want to devour her household--they must be prevented. A widow cannot be timid about saying, emphatically, no. Those believers around her must be an encouragement to her in this area, because saying "no" can at first seem like a rudeness to her. It may seem "unChristian" when in fact, it is the righteous, obedient thing to do.
Widows can find tremendous solace in seeing themselves married to Christ eternally, together with all God's elect. Though the married state on earth can be a blessed one, it is only a shadow of the heavenly marriage of Christ and the church. In that eternal marriage, there are no widows.
This article is reprinted from Credenda/Agenda, Vol. 7, No. 4, by kind permission.