I received a letter in the mail yesterday from an 81 year old widow. She attended the widow’s banquet that I spoke at recently. She began by saying she and her husband have always brought a widow to their annual banquet, but this year she came alone. She was the widow. Having recently lost her husband, my message brought both tears and comfort to her wounded heart. “I’m still trying to get on the other side of grief.” She confessed. “I know the Lord is faithful and my joy will be restored because joy is not according to our circumstances but based on what and who we are in Him. There is still much life for me to live. God’s not through with me, yet.” I have to give a hearty “a-men” to that!!
This wise woman took my message and put it into one sentence—a phrase that she claims she will live by daily. “You must remember you did not die—only your mate did—your life is not over.” My heart rejoiced that she got it! So many who have lost loved ones don’t get it and they live as if they were dead. It’s tragic when the death of a loved one can lead to a living death of the survivor.
Loss is inevitable. Family members will die. Our financial status will change. Good health will falter. Yet, these are the things that we value most. When all is well, we are held in tack. When we encounter lost, our world falls apart. We have mistaken God’s blessed gifts for our own possessions. In the book of James we read, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Gifts from God include our spouse, our children, our home, our health and our finances. They are given to us by our gracious Lord to love and care for and to experience joy and thankfulness. Nevertheless, they belong to God. They are only on loan to us for a little while. When I realized this truth, my grief over the loss of my husband took a turn upward. I began to feel thankful for knowing him and for being a part of his days here on earth. It easy to accept God’s sovereignty when He blesses us with good things, but it’s hard to trust His hand when bad things happen. Still, God is in it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
My new 81 year old friend was married 60 years to her high-school sweet-heart, whom she is still head over heels in love with, states that she is thankful for all the many wonderful years she had with her spouse. While she misses him terribly, she knows that death in Christ is only temporary. She realizes that death is a part of life, but it’s only a transition from one place to another. Her hope lies in knowing her sweet-heart lives. One day, they will be reunited. In the meantime, she chooses to live the rest of her days to the fullest. Will she miss her husband? Yes. Will she grieve over him on birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries? Yes, but only because they are apart now for a little while. So she holds tight to her hope and looks forward to their reunion. This enables her to live and be a witness to others—even in the midst of her grief.
How can an 81 year old woman live her life witnessing about her hope—by writing to me. Thanks for the testimony, Sara. May your wise words bring comfort to those who share your pain.