The club nobody wants to join: widowhood... I don’t like the word, even to check it on a form. But being a widow is part of God’s design for my life, and so accept it I must. I guess my life is much like the church proper at this point-- separated from my groom but still with a strong foundation, a present voice, and a hope for the future.
Five months after Earl’s sudden death in 2016 at the age of 59, I ran across a verse in the Bible that gave me pause. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Matthew 22:30. I had read that verse before, but now it filtered through my present circumstance. I don’t quite know what relationships will look like in heaven, but apparently they will be different. The Old Testament speaks of being gathered to our people—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. I sure hope that means more than the family plot—I hope we might recognize those we love and be a part of relationships in their most perfect form. Although there will be no need for marriage, it’s a beautiful thought to ponder that all relationships might share that bond of love in its purest form. The wedding feast of the Lamb will be paradise found-- the perfect manifestation of what a few marriages on earth have glimpsed. It will be a time of joy and love, a time of praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; our God will be in communion with Himself and with us. This is a widow’s hope that is actually any believer’s hope-- but what about in the mean time?
My maternal grandmother lived to be 100 and my mother, 98 so I guess I imagined that one day I would be a widow, too--so many women are. How do we face each new day that we are given here on earth as we await the Promise to come? I thank God that He has shown us much of Himself. We know of His goodness and His sovereignty. He is the God of all comfort, and He is unchanging in a world that is full of change. (Did I know as a young person that life is always changing?) I am drawn back again and again to the God who sees me. He sees me in my days of stagnation or loneliness or confusion. He is always with me by His Spirit. His love never fails. I also thank God that He has given us key pieces of the big story. That image of the wedding feast of the Lamb— glory! It comforts me to know that all of my days have been ordained by Him, even difficult days. Nothing is taking Him by surprise or is out of His control. My mom used to say, “This too shall pass.” You see, knowing the end of the story allowed her to look beyond what might have bogged her down on a particular day.
My role in life changed the day Earl died. I wore the role of helpmate well; I was rarely the one taking a leap into a new adventure; that was his role. Mine was to pull him back at times, point at dangers along the way, steady the ship, offer support. I’ve been slow to understand this new role, but God knew that I would be. He gently walked with me, first allowing me to support my own mother in her last days, and then turning my eyes to see what is next around the bend. It’s a role that my grandmother and mother wore well, to be a support to the branches and leaves of the family tree. I’m so grateful that God allowed my mom to be such an integral part of my children’s lives. And now it seems He is allowing me the same favor. I will be spending more time with my grandsons who live in Knoxville. These are new waters to navigate-- a new place, a new role. Finding the sweet spot of what that looks like will take God’s daily guidance and grace. I don’t know how long this season will last, but I do know that He will be with me--that wonderful God Who sees me.
So until the time I am gathered to my people, I pray that God will allow me to recognize the mercies that are new each day. The gifts that are given. That in the now, I will continue to love and invest in those around me. That I will fulfill God’s good purpose for my life. That I will delight in Him, and O Lord, that He might delight in me.
That is this widow’s hope.
Sylvia Sykes - November 1st, 2023 at 12:18pm
Beautifully written, Deb! By sharing your strong faith, I feel sure this has ministered to many in our church and, hopefully, many that may not be in our church. Blessings as you pour into your grands!