I can remember many years ago reading about a woman’s struggles through various stages in her life (adjusting to marriage, having children, etc.). The newest “stage” in my life, becoming a widow, is not my favorite stage and I know I would have never given it a thought for myself personally until now! Now I have no choice in the matter.
My husband drew his last breath on August 23, 2010 at 5:15 in the morning.
…to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. –II Corinthians 5:8b
Was I prepared for this stage? Without hesitation, I can say NO and NO! But then again, from the time I had trusted Christ as my personal Savior, day after day, year after year, I soon learned that the Lord will prepare me for whatever is around the corner if I place my life completely in His hands. If I ask Him to teach me and prepare me for what lies ahead, the Bible says I can continue along my personal journey without going into severe depression, anxiety, or feeling completely abandoned. There are lots of struggles I am facing today, but can I find hope in this difficult situation in my life?
My personal journey began when I was 8 years old. I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and don’t remember missing church much through these 63 years of my life. I am grateful for the godly heritage I was blessed with. God and His local church have been an extremely important part of my life. I have served the Lord faithfully for several years. Why do I have to go through this trial now in my later years?
My life of 63 years has been full of “happenings” – romantic walks and talks, fun times, heart wrenching disappointments, and the births of two children and 5 grandchildren who are so precious to my soul. I have been excited to see God work in the hearts of various people and I have also been extremely sad when someone close to me has died or faced a serious illness.
But losing my spouse is by far the toughest loss and “happening” I have experienced.
While my husband was not my “idol”, I loved him as much as humanly capable. He taught me many things, entertained me with his humor, wit, and jokes, and allowed me the privilege of living intimately as only husband and wife can share with God’s blessings.
One of the main challenges for me is being alone so much…being at home with my parents and two brothers, being at college with various roommates, and then getting married does not leave much time in your life to truly be “alone”. As a widow, you are alone a whole lot. You become acutely aware you have no one to hug romantically, and no one to share your important and minor decisions with. There is no one who is my sole protector, encourager, or lover. Unless I have a friend over, I eat the majority of the time at home alone.
Another challenge that is becoming more and more tempting each day is to worry about the future. The scriptures tell me not to be anxious or worried about the cares of life. I know He has promised to take care of all my needs, but now I must put faith into practice. Recently God reminded me during a personal time of prayer and study that He is the Creator and Master of the Universe. I do believe He is capable of taking care of my daily needs. Why would I even question Him? If I don’t fully trust Him to walk me through this time in my life, do I really believe He will do what He has promised?
I was encouraged to be independent and plan my life myself. I feel very weak now with new pressures related to my finances, health and many other things. I am dependent on Him to give me hope to continue through life, face each challenge and make the best decision for my future. Each day I am reminded that I need to allow God to bring every thought I have into obedience of Christ. (II Corinthians 10:3-5)
As a widow, I am reminded of what I used to have. I had a man who loved me, hugged me, cherished me, and gave me sweet things out of love. We served the Lord together and comforted one another when our parents died. We prayed together, studied things together, and shopped together. We worshipped together and in my case, my husband preached and taught most of the services/classes I attended for the past 36 years. I always looked forward to his lessons as he shared from his heart and experience, personally applying the scriptures he was sharing with us as a congregation or family.
I am grateful God forgives us, for often I will think of ways I failed my husband, and things I could have done differently. So many times, I took his love and care for granted. I would love to tell him one more time how much I genuinely love him and appreciate his care for me down through the years.
After my husband died, I felt as though half of me was gone. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) I know I will see him again in eternity, but I miss him now!
God is very real to me. I love His Word, I love His people, and I love to worship Him privately and publicly. I have never wanted to walk away from serving Him. Has this loss in my life affected me in a BIG way? The answer is a definite yes! Now, more than ever, I need to turn to Him for His help. But without the love of my life, is this life on earth worth living? Can I survive on my own without him?
My mind and spirit says one thing and my heart is struggling with the emotion of such a great loss. I feel very sad at times which I figure is part of the grieving process. Your mind says you must continue on and my spirit says do great things for the Lord. My will hesitates at times and I don’t always know why. I have concluded just to obey what the Lord directs me to do and trust Him that He will again restore the complete joy of my daily living here on earth.
God’s Word tells me to thank Him for these trials and ask without wavering for wisdom knowing these tough days are for my good, to help me grow spiritually. The words are so easy to say but a challenge to fulfill each and every day. Someone has said, “Every frustration, every disappointment, and every joy has a purpose!” You hear the words but at times it is difficult to accept them. As long as God gives me what I want, I am happy, but to be in a situation I do not want… that is another story.
My heart goes out to all of you who consider yourself “alone”. This category would include widows, the divorced, the singles who have never been married, the separated from your spouse for whatever reason, and those in any other category I have not mentioned, but who feel truly “alone”.
This extra time of being alone is giving me more time to study, meditate and to know my Savior. I want to learn to listen carefully to my Father. Taking care of my affairs solely has stretched me to rely on God, to ask Him to calm my soul, and keep my mind focused on His promises for me. Living my life by faith is the best option but I believe it is the toughest at times. It is easier to rely on others to provide my needs – walking by sight. I am reminded that to please the Father, “The just shall live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:38)
Do you want to know what a widow goes through after their spouse dies? Ask them, talk with them, invite them to your home to visit. Be sensitive to their pain especially in the early months or years following the loss of their spouse. It will help you appreciate your spouse more, your children more, and will encourage you to draw as close to our Lord as you can for none of us know the hour or day our life might take a serious turn in a new direction.
One of my widow friends struggles with her finances, the pressure of having to work combined with health issues as she gets older. Following a spouses’ death, one is consumed with making legal changes, submitting paperwork, and paying final bills along with deciding how to move forward and where to live. This change after change has convinced me as a believer I need to remain “under God’s wings” each day I live. My friend and I don’t know about tomorrow, and we don’t understand everything we are faced with in our futures, but we can know who holds tomorrow and who can carry through us through every trial and testing that we are faced with. I can know this mentally but I must apply this truth in order for it to benefit me.
I encourage every widow, or any person feeling alone, to pour your heart out before God, our loving and Heavenly Father. Ask the Lord to cross your path with others who understand your situation and pray together as fellow believers. I believe that is why the Lord encourages two or more believers to join together to pray and to witness. There is strength and encouragement when two strive for a cause (Ecc. 4:9-12; Mark 6:7; Matthew 18:20).
As I continue on this journey, God is teaching me new things and refining me as to whether I am genuinely resting in Him and waiting patiently for His direction or not. I am trying to reach out to others who are hurting or without Christ, for focusing on others takes my focus off of myself (it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself). One difficult lesson for me has been to ask for help with things I don’t know about or things I need the help to complete. I have recognized more and more how weak I really am. I need help from my Savior and from others. What a humbling experience!
I have family and friends that have helped me sacrificially through my “transition” time. I am especially grateful for each and every person who has cared for me and showed their genuine love and concern for my well being. I cannot thank them enough! But all praise, in the end, goes to my Heavenly Father who has held my hand, comforted my broken and hurting heart, and given me rest under His watch and care.
When Louis lay on the floor in our bedroom after being dead for several minutes, I cried and cried because of my loss.
God was there with me.
“For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5b)
This is a new chapter in my life as a believer. I gave my life to Him to do with as He pleased. He has allowed this change for me. Dear Lord, give me the grace, strength and courage to continue on until my last breath is drawn here on earth.
I encourage you to reach out to widows and those alone God puts in your life and pray for them to be strong and rely on God’s wisdom for their future. Love them, check on them and include them in your family’s activities when possible.
As I pondered these penned words, God reminded me every believer who wants to please God must expect trials in her life. Widows and those living alone are not the only people who need to rely on God. Every person has a genuine need for God to be real in his or her life – to establish, strengthen and settle them. Human nature says, “My problems are the biggest and toughest!” God says, “[He] is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
Mrs. Gayle Purks served faithfully along side her husband, Louis, for over 30 years. Lou started and pastored the Victory Baptist Church in Fredrick, Maryland until just a few years before going home to be with the Lord. Gayle is still a faithful member at VBC where her son, Jonathan, is now the pastor.
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