Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:17 (ESV)
I had prepared this originally for my book, In a Mirror Dimly. But as I worked on it, I realized that it was too raw for me at the time. I was completing a form that asked my marital status, and for the first time I realized that I was no longer married; but instead, a widower. That first time is a shocking reality for most of us.
We are admonished over and over again to care for widows among us by Scripture. In fact, there is an entire book of the Canon devoted to the subject. The Book of Ruth tells of the fate of the widow Naomi and her widowed daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. After the deaths of Naomi’s sons she told them to leave her and return to their families. But God enjoined Ruth to remain with Naomi. And His plan moved forward, with Ruth marrying Boaz; together they conceived Jesse, the father of David.
Why is this so important to God? I believe it goes back to Genesis 2:24: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” That’s right. They shall become one flesh. Any of us who have lost a spouse recognize how utterly true this is. A piece of me was torn away when Sally died.
However, I am a man. God created us to be providers for our own. Therefore, most widowers have means to provide for our needs. But God foresaw that most widows don’t have these means. This was why in Acts 6 Luke tells of the complaints of the Hellenistic Jews that their widows were not being provided for. And the disciples were led to “ Instead, brothers and sisters, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” Acts 6:3 (NASB) In our time the need for us to care for widows is no less important than in the days of Ruth. It is a ministry that is rooted in our Christian tradition and must be supported and nourished.
I encourage you, my friends: care for the widows!