1 Beginning, Ending, and Beginning Again
2 Identifying Yourself Anew
3 Trusting God
4 Cherishing Christ
5 Enjoying the Holy Spirit
6 Gaining Comfort from God’s Word
7 Learning from Examples of Biblical Widows
8 Learning from Examples of Contemporary Widows
9 Grieving in a Godly Way
10 Managing Your Emotions
11 Overcoming Loneliness
12 Facing Your Fears
13 Battling Your Adversary
14 Learning to Be Content in Your Circumstances
15 Remembering the Past
16 Stretching Forward
17 Distraction and Devotion
18 Making Important Decisions
19 Numbering Your Days with Wisdom
20 Learning from Your Widowhood
Appendix 1 How to Help a Widow
Appendix 2 The Local Church and Its Widows
Appendix 3 The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ
Marriage is the most intimate of human relationships. When that relationship is severed by death, intense sorrow follows. I was surprised at the uniqueness and depth of this grief. Over a period of five years, I also lost my father, my mother, my aunt, and my father-in-law. None of these losses, however, compared in intensity to the grief of losing my husband. My husband died in the late fall, and I distinctly remember being surprised when spring came that I was still alive. I never thought I would make it through the winter. I don’t mean that I was suicidal, but each day was so hard that I thought I would just wear out. Now, several years later, I can tell you with full assurance from the Scriptures and from my experience that God can bring you to a place of contentment. You can faithfully endure the winter of your grief if you lean on the Lord for all you need. It is my fervent hope and sincere prayer that this book will encourage your hurting heart and uplift your soul.
The loss of one’s husband can be disorienting. Christian wives often are accustomed to living every day responding to their husband’s leadership and, consequently, his absence creates a huge vacuum. We Christian widows must embrace the comforting reality that Christ was and still is the head of our home. We need to learn moment by moment, day by day, to live not on our own but in response to Christ. Our husband is no longer here to fulfill his leadership responsibility, but the Spirit of Christ will continue to provide leadership in our home.
John Angell James, writing in the nineteenth century, noted the availability to mourners of general works concerning consolation in affliction, but he lamented the lack of any work prepared to particularly comfort widows.
This observation was the inspiration for his book entitled The Widow Directed to the Widow’s God. It is an excellent work but challenging to read due to archaic language and an antiquated writing style.
Many contemporary books address the subject of suffering and grief in general. I found some of them helpful. I found it wearisome, however, to sort through them, trying to make application to my particular suffering after I was widowed. The effort to do so seemed Herculean in the exhaustion of grief.
I’ve long been accustomed to putting my thoughts on paper. In addition, my counselor training emphasized the writing of plans to work out strategies for overcoming problems. So, it seemed natural when I faced the monumental task of adjusting to life as a widow to write it all down and fashion a plan for myself. My plan grew and grew and my notebook got so full that I couldn’t get the large-ring binder to close. Over the last several years, I’ve turned repeatedly to this material to find comfort, courage, strength, and hope to go on from one day to the next. The book you now hold in your hands grew out of that plan. I long for you to find in the following pages readily available comfort, compassionate understanding, and real hope.
I want to tell you enough of my story to assure you of my empathy with your grief. But then I want to step aside and point you to Christ, for he is able to come alongside you by the presence of his Spirit. He cares for you. He wants you to know him better. Times of deep sorrow can produce in us a profound sense of loneliness, but if we set our eyes of faith on Christ and seek to know him in the midst of pain, he will give us a clearer vision of who he is and who we are in him. The Lord Jesus Christ can give us confidence in him so strong that we can face anything because he is with us.
Someday the torrent of tears will slow to occasional trickles. Someday the pain in your heart will fade. Someday you will look back and see how far God has brought you. May this book help you to find true comfort and real strength to keep walking with the Lord for his glory and your good as you reach toward that day.