Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“For Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in (her) distress, a refuge from the storm against the wall.”
Isaiah 25: 4
“Lord, plant my spirit high upon the crest of Thine eternal strength!
Then though life’s breaking struggles come at length
Their storms shall only bend me to Thy breast.”
Dorothy Clarke Wilson
Today’s Study Text:
1. “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”
“The Widow’s God”
“God promises not to give us more than we can take. However, life piles misery on our heads until it feels like every last breath of our faith will be choked off. God is ever-present and faithful even in the screaming silence, and never leaves our side.”
Has the loss of one I loved nearly “choked-off” my faith?
How do I think I would have dealt with not only being a widow but also finding myself in dire financial straits as happened to the widow in Zarephath?
“One of the most powerful, though difficult lessons we all need to learn on our spiritual pilgrimage is that even when bad things happen and we do not understand why, we can trust God to be present and working on our behalf.”
Henry Cloud and John Townsend
God Will Make A Way
“The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.”
Isaiah 60: 20
When we first met the widow of Zarephath, the question that immediately came to my mind was, “Why would God send His’ servant, Elijah, to the home of a lonely woman who had lost her husband and found herself without a penny to her name?” Seems strange doesn’t it?
However, as I’ve pondered this thought, and read in the Scripture the way our heavenly Father works here on earth, I began to realize that the blessings which heaven showered into the widow’s life, through the arrival of Elijah, give us insight down through history, to the way our heavenly Father cares for the grieving and sorrowful -- especially widows who are left alone without the love of their spouse.
While we looked at the way we can, with kindness and compassion, reach out to those around us who have lost a beloved one, today, before we leave Zarephath, I want to specifically look at the way God’s character is revealed by not only the way He treats widows, but further by His instructions to us on how we should treat those whose hearts are breaking.
Just to get a clearer understanding for myself on how important “widows” are to God, the specific word widow or a version of it, is mentioned nearly ninety times in a variety of ways in the Old and New Testaments.
But I’d like to share with you several texts which to me are like using a flashlight on a dark night. The other evening, Jim and I needed to go outside after 10:00 P.M. Our neighborhood has no streetlights because our city is what I call a “dark night” town. We are an amateur astronomers delight for at the darkest times of night, the sky is filled with twinkling stars. But on this particular night, it was so black outside that it took the light of a very powerful flashlight to illuminate the path from our front door to the street. This is what the Scripture does in shining God’s heavenly spotlight on those He cares for.
Let’s take a look at a few of the “spotlighted” passages:
1. Psalm 146: 9 – “God protects and preserves the strangers. He upholds the fatherless and the widow and sets them upright.”
2. Jeremiah 7: 6 – “If you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless, and the widow…then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers to dwell in forever.”
3. Jeremiah 22: 3 – “Thus says the Lord: Execute justice and righteousness, and deliver out of the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong; do no violence to the stranger or temporary resident, the fatherless, or the widow.”
4. Zechariah 7: 9, 10 – “Thus has the Lord of hosts spoken: Execute true judgment and show mercy and kindness and tender compassion…and oppress not the widow or the fatherless.”
5. Malachi 3: 5,6 – “Then I will draw near to you for judgment: I will be a swift witness…against those who oppress the hireling in his (or her) wages, the widow and the fatherless, and who turn aside the temporary resident from his (her) right…For I am the Lord. I do not change.”
6. James 1: 27 – “External religious worship, religion as it is expressed in outward acts that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.”
Do you see a pattern developing? I certainly do for throughout the Bible, God makes it clear that He stands watch over those who so often go unnoticed -- the alien, the fatherless and especially the widows. In the last passage above, James 1: 27, we read words penned by the apostle who scholars tell us was Jesus’ brother, James. He was eye-witness to the compassionate care which Jesus bestowed upon the widow in Nain, whose son Jesus raised from the dead. It is also very likely he was present when another widow dropped the last of her copper mites into the church treasury, causing Jesus to extol not only her faithfulness, but her generosity. It is no surprise then that James lays out the fact that when God takes into account the actions we accomplish which reflect most closely His gracious treatment toward the less fortunate -- James puts kindness to widows right at the top of the list.
As I reflected on the way our heavenly Father wraps His comforting arms around those who are grieving or feeling alone and forgotten, the prayer of St. Anselm came to mind for his words paint, in vivid color, the landscape of compassion which surrounds every act of God on behalf of His hurting daughters:
“Jesus, as a mother You gather Your people to You:
You are gentle with us as a mother with her children.
Often You weep over our sins…
tenderly You draw us from hatred and judgment.
You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds;
In sickness You nurse us, and with pure milk You fee us…
Despair turns to hope through Your sweet goodness
through Your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead:
Your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in Your mercy heal us,
in Your love and tenderness remake us.
In compassion bring grace.”
“I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.”
I see You in the innocent face of my fatherless child.
I am afraid of all the things I cannot give-
Of not being able to find the strength
and patience to perform this great task alone.
I have so much love, but sometimes I feel so tired.
I call on You now…
I will lean on You for comfort…
With Your help I am not alone.”
Diana Chervin Jump
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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