Being a widow is an unpleasant experience that affects not only the widow herself but the significant others who are left behind to take care of her and her children. Generally, it can be associated with negative emotions and experiences, but the Bible has been explicit that widows are not to be left behind to suffer on their own. As Christians, how should we treat a widow?
The Word of God says that it is not right to afflict the widows, for if any man should afflict them and they would cry to the Lord for help, the Lord will surely hear their cry. The Lord’s anger will burn, and He will kill the oppressors with a sword, making their wives widows and their children fatherless. Likewise, it has been an order from the Lord to take care of widows who have no one else to take care of them.
The Old Testament testifies that the Lord shows mercy and kindness to widows. He looks on them lovingly and is concerned with their well-being and protection. As Scripture teaches, a widow is left behind with no husband, so she will depend on her sons to provide for and protect her. Otherwise, she would be left helpless and in despair. Being left to fend for themselves, it would be especially difficult if a widow had to deal with people who would afflict them. Widows are entitled to be treated with honor and compassion, taking into consideration their circumstances. The main reason for God’s wrath on those who would do them an injustice is that the Lord is the Father to the fatherless and the protector of widows in His holy habitation, as stated in Psalms 68:5. In Deuteronomy 16:11-14, God’s mercy and provision are shown when He commanded that widows not be excluded from the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles but instead be allowed to enjoy full participation in them.
In the New Testament, widowhood was again given special attention when the Lord commanded that widows be taken care of. James 1:27 says that “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT) This shows that the Lord has compassion for the widows who are left alone and that it is the duty of the Church and the Christians to extend that same compassion. It can be noted that when we say we are Christians, this means we look after Christ, His characteristics, and His way of life. As He demonstrated this kind of compassion and afforded the widows the care they needed, we, as Christians, must do the same and manifest that same vigor and love.
Being a widow implies that the woman would not be living a comfortable life, given the circumstances. She would be suffering a deep sense of grief and loss and would be nursing a broken heart, wherein there would be no telling when it would heal. It would always be a long process of healing and acceptance for her to feel whole again. This situation will be aggravated if, when she is already experiencing these difficult emotions, she will be stressing over the next meal she will be putting on her table, the clothing she will wrap herself with, or the roof she will put above her head. She will not have solutions to these needs and concerns alone, so should she have somebody who will help her through it. That is why it is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible that widows are the receiving end of God’s miracles. The Lord would never want a widow to suffer all on their own.
What does the Bible say about losing a spouse?
For most of us, the death of a loved one is an experience that causes excruciating pain; it crushes the spirit, and at some point it drains the life out of us. Simply put, it is never easy, and it is something that you would never want to happen to somebody, even those you like least. But it is even more difficult when dealing with a spouse’s death. It can be recalled that a spouse is a gift from God, and when the time has come when he has to return to the creator, human nature would dictate that it would be difficult even though we know beforehand that our days are already numbered from the beginning.
But while we may question why these things happen, it must be recalled that the Lord said in His word in Isaiah 55:9, “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (NLT) There may be times when we are tempted to ask why things are happening or why we are experiencing difficulty or pain, yet we should always remember that we are never in the position to question God’s wisdom because no man can ever fathom God.
We are never alone in that difficult situation. God knows every tear that has been shed—the agony and the pain. Psalms 40:1-2 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” (NLT) The Lord has promised that He will wipe away all our tears from our eyes, and there shall be no more death, sorrow, or crying, and neither shall there be any more pain. He will be our source of comfort, strength, and courage. He will be near and save us from such brokenness. Even if the widow, in her desperation and hopelessness, must deal with so much grief, there is a comfort, as the Bible says in Psalm 73:26, “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” (NLT)
We can never be separated from the love of God, even in death. That is why, even with the death of a spouse, we may be steadfast in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 says it is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness but will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies, for just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. (NLT)
What does the Bible say about looking after widows?
In the book of 1 Timothy, Chapter 5, the Church has been mandated to take care of the widows who have no one else to take care of them. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God. As Christians, we are responsible for looking after the widows in the Church. However, there is an attached qualification in the Bible wherein it states that it is first the responsibility of the children and the godchildren to take care of them and repay the former for what they are owed. In cases where such conditions don’t apply, resorting to the next best option is necessary.
In the Old Testament and the New Testament alike, the Bible is a wellspring of teaching on the care of widows. Paul, particularly, gave instructions on how to care for them properly. For a widow to be eligible to receive financial and material support from the Church, she must be a person who is truly in need and completely alone, with no one else to take care of her. Also, the widow must be a woman of prayer, a dedicated servant of the Lord, more than sixty years of age, faithful to her husband when he was alive, and committed to good deeds like caring for her children, showing hospitality, and serving God’s people as listed in 1 Timothy 5:9-10. A widow must be able to exhibit such acts and good works.
The Lord promised His blessings to those who will follow his command, and He also gave His warning against those who would afflict a widow. It goes to show that God never forgets about them or abandons them. In the same vein, we must follow God’s example of compassion and take care of widows by helping them meet their physical and material needs and, most especially, their spiritual needs.
Can a widow marry again according to the Bible?
In the book of Romans 7:2-3 it says, “For example, when a woman marries, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, the law of marriage no longer applies to her. So, while her husband is alive, she would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries.” (NLT) Also, 1 Corinthians 7:39 says, “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.” (NLT)
So, to answer the question: Yes, widows can remarry, especially when they are still young. The principle is that a widow is free to marry whomever she wishes as long as her husband belongs to the Lord.
Paul said that the Church must encourage younger widows to remarry. Younger widows are not included in the list of those entitled to receive help from the Church because their passion may lead them away from the Lord because of their desire to be married again. By doing this, they will be subjected to judgment for breaking their covenant with God. 1 Timothy 5:11-15 says, “The younger widows should not be on the list, because their physical desires will overpower their devotion to Christ and they will want to remarry. Then they would be guilty of breaking their previous pledge. And if they are on the list, they will learn to be lazy and will spend their time gossiping from house to house, meddling in other people’s business, and talking about the things they shouldn’t. So, I advise these younger widows to marry again, have children, and take care of their homes. Then the enemy will not be able to say anything against them. For I am afraid that some of them have already gone astray and now follow Satan.” (NLT)
It can be said that entering into marriage brings about joy and happiness. What is important is that marriage thereafter is contracted as a good and holy option for Christians. So, widows will then be able to enjoy all of the aspects of their married life. Likewise, they also have the option to remain unmarried and have a pledge to God, but then again, the younger widows are instructed to remarry.
Most of us do not realize that this directive is also a form of God’s protection for us—protection from committing sin and giving in to temptation. Young people burn with desire and passion, and these things can be the root of evil. In the same manner, young widows are instructed to enter another marriage to protect them from sin and sexual immorality. Again, Paul reminds us in 1 Timothy 5:6, “But the widow who lives only for pleasure is spiritually dead even while she lives.” (NLT)
Looking back over time and comparing conventions with our generation today, nothing much has changed concerning the situation of widows. As in olden times, widows of today still need support from their families and the churches. Likewise, the Word is a constant reminder of the role we have to play for the widows around us. Let us lift each other in Christ and continue to live a life pleasing before His eyes, following His commandments.