There are no words.
No words to express the grief. The loss. The ache.
It seems there are no words warm enough to replace the body that once lay on the now-empty side of the bed. No words strong enough to emulate his embrace. No words gentle enough to pierce your soul as his once did.
Yet, somehow, words are still too many. The heart-wrenching words of children who do not yet understand. The well-meaning, ignorant words of a church member. The words comprising the overwhelming blocks of text upon the pages of the Bible (which, perhaps, feels more difficult to open than it ever has before).
In the shadow of death, amidst a season where words seem too many and too few, it may be difficult to feel your connection with Jesus Christ— with the Word Himself.
If joy feels foreign and facing what lies ahead seems unbearable, do not lose heart. For even when you struggle to enjoy communion with Christ, your union with Christ remains secure. Though despair threatens to drown you, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort sustains your life. `
Fight to hope in Him, believer. Fight to listen to God’s heart for the widowed (and all of His children) as it is expressed in His Word. Only there will you find words powerful enough to overcome both the thick silence of your mind and the deafening clamor of the world. Lean into the truths that will help your hurting soul hear and hope again:
1. God sees the widow.
People often feel alone or invisible in the midst of grief. These feelings can be compounded for those who have lost a spouse because the marital relationship is designed for a man and a woman to know each other in the deepest and most exclusive ways possible. The loss of such a profound relationship elicits profound pain.
Hundreds of shared glances, mannerisms, and stories go forgotten by even the closest friends. Being understood goes from an immediate guarantee to an exhausting (and sometimes fruitless) endeavor. How can you keep going when the one person who knew you best in the world is no longer with you? Remembrance.
Before the foundation of the world, God the Father predestined us in love for adoption to himself through the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, sealing us with the promised Holy Spirit to the praise of his glorious grace (Eph. 4:1-14). Every vein flowing with blood, every nuance of our vocal cords, and every unique physicality we have was designed with purpose and woven with intricacy (Ps. 139:13-15). Not one day of our lives is unaccounted for by the Lord, and not one moment goes unseen or misunderstood (Ps. 139:1-5).
Your identity is not grounded in your widowhood; it is grounded in the Gospel. You can keep going because you are fully seen, known, and loved by this omniscient, sovereign God. Remind your soul of the remarkable reality that your heavenly Father knows you better than anyone ever could—more than a parent, more than a friend, and even more than a spouse.
2. God protects the widow.
In this fallen world permeated with sin and death, even adopted children of God may taste the bitterness of loss. There are orphans who weep alone in the darkness. There are refugees haunted by the trauma of their journey. There are people who love the Lord and yet are still plagued by anxiety and depression. These results of sin’s entrance into the world are not new; the Bible is filled with stories of the suffering and hardship of God’s people.
Whether it be loss of security, companionship, or hope, the Lord is not unfamiliar with or indifferent to such suffering. God not only sees it all; He sovereignly provides for and protects the helpless and hurting in the midst of it (Ps. 35:10). For the widow, there is perhaps no clearer example of this than the book of Ruth.
This biblical narrative occurs during the tumultuous time when judges ruled Israel. Violence and famine were prevalent threats, causing sorrow and death to pervade the land. Amidst these harsh times, God protected the lives of two widowed women (Naomi and her immigrant daughter-in-law Ruth) through provision granted by His noble servant (a farmer named Boaz). But, as the Scriptures testify, the Lord God is not only a protector— He is a redeemer.
3. God redeems the widow.
Before encountering the kindness of Boaz, Naomi (who lost both her husband and two sons) uttered these words upon returning to her hometown of Bethlehem:
“Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” (Ruth 1:20)
When we are assaulted by the onslaught of anger and our vision is dimmed in the darkness of depression, bitterness towards God and others becomes easy to embrace. As loss steals our breath away, our heart’s lament releases the anguish-ridden question: “Why?”
Suffering feels pointless and hopeless. Though I do not pretend to understand the grand mystery of how God orchestrates the symphony of redemption, I trust God’s use of suffering as an instrument of grace. We need look no further than Christ’s accomplishment upon the cross to confirm our holy God’s sovereign intention to use what is meant for evil to accomplish good (Gn. 50:20; Col. 1:20). Even if God’s work in our past pain is incomprehensible to us at the moment, there is hope to be found in God’s promise of redemption.
In chapter 4 of Ruth, Boaz recognizes the plight of Ruth and Naomi and agrees to be their kinsman-redeemer. The unmerited restoration of this family unit is but a foretaste of the fulfillment of Christ’s redemption of the Church. One day the Bride of Christ, washed with the water of the word and clothed in linen bright and pure, will experience perfect, unbreakable unity at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-10; Hosea 2:19). Death will pass away and eternal delight will radiate from those dwelling in a city glowing with the glory of God (Rev. 21).
Beloved, in this life you have endured a most grievous trial. But there is a promise firmly whispered even in the darkest night of the soul: “… Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Christ still holds you, and He always will. For His love has the final word.