(Please read the article to see what I mean by this)
When I meet people around the area and they learn that I am from the church where I serve as visitation pastor, I often get comments like, “Oh, that’s a very active church,” or “they have good leadership there,” or “a good youth program.” I even get comments about the nice facilities.
I do not disagree with these remarks, but when I think that the person with whom I am talking might understand what I mean, and if I have a few moments to explain myself, I might say, “Yes, and the church is also very rich in widows.”
That’s a bit of an alarming statement so you can see why I do not say it very often, but if you have a few moments, let me explain to you what I mean by it.
It is almost a little surprising just how prominent of a role in the pages of Scripture are women who are widows. The subject of widows comes up time and time again, both in stories and in teachings. Verses concerning the treatment of widows are very numerous, such as this one in the book of Zechariah: “Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another” (Zechariah 7:10 NAS).
In the social structure of both the Old and the New Testaments, widows often found themselves in very troublesome financial circumstances. They were also often the recipients of mistreatment by others, because in those male dominated societies, widows sometimes had no one to defend them or to be an advocate for their rights.
Because of this, widows hold a special place in the heart of God. Along with others in society that have few to defend them, God offers widows particular protection. “The LORD protects the strangers… He supports the fatherless and the widow” (Psalm 146:9 NAS).
But beyond this about widows, their stories are also given as examples to teach us positive aspects of life. Often the widows had grown children to care for them, but because their husband had died, the one who had been their main provider and protector in this life, the many widows in the Bible that we read about had learned or were learning to abandon everything else and put their trust only in God.
We all can learn a lot from these widows of the Bible, and I will tell you something else; we can learn a lot from the widows that we have as a part of many of our churches. In my ministry as a visitation pastor, I have the opportunity to visit many of them, and I can tell you that even thought their physical life is declining, the spiritual lives that they live with the Lord keeps increasing in strength.
We often single out and honor many people who work in our churches, and many churches are blessed to have so many different and various people who are actively involved with service. But we need to also honor the strength that we have in our widows. These ladies pray for people, they give perspective and guidance, and they are powerful examples of a life given to the Lord.
It is a strength for a church if it is rich in widows.
(In my posts for the month of March, I will be writing about some of these widows in the Bible whose stories are told so that we might learn from them)