Widow(er) Stories

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A fellow died and his widow expected to receive all his wealth. She gave him a nice funeral and an expensive headstone, only to find out when the will was read that he had left everything except $5 to his secretary. Naturally, the wife was furious and drove to the tombstone establishment and ordered the inscription on her husband’s monument changed. The engraver (or chiseler) said “I’m sorry, ma’am. You told me to inscribe ‘Rest In Peace’ on the stone and that’s what I did. I can’t change it now, unless you want to buy a new stone.” She thought for a moment. She certainly didn’t want to spend any more of her money, so she said, “Right after ‘Rest In Peace’ I want you to chisel in the words — ‘Till We Meet Again.’

In some ways she was sorry she had come to church this morning. She had been in church every Sunday, of course, but she had never been affected by the scripture reading as she was this particular morning. There it was, right there in the Word of God, the lady in Zarepath who had not only lost her husband, but was down to her last box of baking soda in the refrigerator. That’s all! Even the last bit of catsup went for tomato soup last night. The widow of Zarepath, who after this last bit of bread is gone, doesn’t know where the next meal will come from.

However, on this Sunday, this woman in the pew felt that the words were meant just for her. She was a young widow. She had a small boy. No passage had ever bothered her like this one. She was sure she was being touched by God. After his death, roles thrust upon her. Her husband always took care of the money and paid the bills. In fact the weekly check for the church was part of the family budget. However, there seemed this day many questions about the routine.

Her mind flashed to the widow in the gospel. (Mark 12:41-44) Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. (She was thinking there are lots of rich people in this church. She fumbled for her purse to get her weekly offering.) But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.”

She thought, “can I really hold this widow up as an example for me and my son?” Our first reaction is that the widow’s actions are the ideal but not the norm. We always have conflicts between the values of the Gospel and the values of society. Why is it that we always question the Gospel’s values, first? Then all at once the pastor reads a second scripture lesson from 2 Kings 4:1-7. The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a little oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

So many of us are widowed, and yet we haven’t lost a spouse in death. A young couple with their child in tow came into a restaurant. The baby cried and the mother cradled the child and fed him. The dad ate and didn’t want to be bothered. The mother fed the child through the whole meal and didn’t eat. They left without her eating. She sacrificed everything for her child and husband.

All of these widows had something in common, they gave everything that they had! Then came the thought, JOH 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Perhaps, laying down our lives as the scripture says, just may mean giving ourselves for our family, for others, rather than dying. For it is in giving that we receive!

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