Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for everyone.
I remember calling a close friend a few years ago around Christmastime. He is a fellow preacher and I was looking for some advice on a sermon introduction. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but what I do remember helped me broaden my perspective on the Christmas season. He said something like this: “For you, Christmas is a happy season because you had a wonderful family growing up. For me, Christmas brings a lot of painful memories because I come from a broken family.” His comment helped me realize (shockingly) for the first time that some people are hurting during this happy season.
Imagine how a widow feels during Christmas. I would wager that many widows struggle this time of year with feelings of sadness, grief, and loneliness. That makes December a perfect time for us to take action and begin to practically love the widowed members of your faith family.
In November, I preached from Deuteronomy 10:12–22. In the text, we noticed the compassionate concern God exercises for the orphan, the widow, and the sojourner. We also saw that God commands His people to mimic His compassion for the positionless and marginalized. During the sermon, I suggested some practical ways to serve orphans, widows, and sojourners. I presented five categories for engagement: we can pray, give, support, serve, and/or go.
So, using these five categories, how can we love the widow?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year to pray for widows.
You may feel tempted to rush past this section in search of more “practical” suggestions. But I would urge you to slow down and consider that prayer is the most effective weapon in your spiritual arsenal.
In prayer, we appeal to the God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and infinitely good. When we pray and ask the Lord to minister to the brokenhearted, we can be sure God will answer. Why? Because the testimony of Scripture declares God’s compassion for the hurting. Look at Psalms 34:18 and 147:3. In Luke 4:16–21, Jesus read the words of the prophet in Isaiah 61:1–2 and declared that one focus of His ministry on earth was to heal the brokenhearted. When we pray for the Lord to minister to the widow, we are asking Him to uphold His Word and act in accordance with His character.
When we pray, we also appeal to the God who can act in ways we cannot. God can fill the brokenhearted with gladness. God can turn mourning into dancing. God can comfort with the presence of the Holy Spirit. God can lift up a person’s countenance. I cannot do any of these things. I can serve someone, but I cannot bring them real, lasting joy. Only God can supply joy that doesn’t make logical sense in the face of crushing grief (Philippians 4:7). If you want to love and serve widows you know, the very best place to start is on your knees in prayer to the compassionate and omnipotent God of peace.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year to give to widow care.
I would suggest two ways to give to benefit the widow. My first suggestion is to give financially. You might wonder, “Is there an organization I can donate to that is responsible for caring for widows?” The answer is a resounding and surprising YES! That organization is the local church.
God gave local churches specific instructions for widow care in the Bible. In fact, in Acts 6:1–6, the apostles instituted a new office within the church called “deacons” who were specifically tasked with caring for the widows among the fellowship (along with other administrative functions). Later, in 1 Timothy 5:3–16, the apostle Paul gave clear instructions to Timothy for how the local church in Ephesus was to care for the widows in their assembly.
Here’s how this looks at my local church: We have deacons who are called by God to care for widows. These deacons have a specific fund they use to help people. If a widow needs financial help, they can ask the deacons, who will help them. And you can actually give directly to the “Deacon Fund” via our website (make sure to choose “Deacon Fund” as the designation). Consider contributing to the Deacon Fund if you are burdened to help our widows financially.
If your church does not have an avenue to give toward widow care, please schedule a meeting with your pastor. In the meantime, if you visit the website for my church, you can designate a gift to go directly to our deacon fund. But I pray you find an outlet to bless the widows in your own congregation!
My second suggestion is to give of your most limited and precious resource to bless widows: give of your time. You can do this by supporting, serving, and going.
This is the most wonderful time of the year to support a widow.
Again, Christmas can be a lonely and painful holiday. Why not spend some time simply visiting with someone who is lonely? Why not put yourself out there and invite someone who is hurting to your holiday dinner or small group Christmas party?
This is the most wonderful time of the year to serve a widow.
Not long ago, one of our lovely widows called the church office and asked for help with a simple household task that had become not-so-simple for her. She needed someone to come and change the batteries in her smoke detector. The five minute task turned into an hour long visit that made my day. (I’d bet it made hers, too).
The sad truth is that many widows need some help around the house. And some may be hesitant to ask for help. Thankfully, our deacons try to keep up with our widows and help them when needs arise, but why not call someone and simply ask if there’s anything you can do to serve them? Why not bring them a meal or invite them to a night out? Why not bring your teenager over to mow the yard or rake the leaves? I bet you will be just as blessed in serving as they are in receiving.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year to put your thoughts into action and go to the widow you know who could use a smile or a hug or some fellowship.
I urge you to take action. Don’t wait for others to reach out and ask for help. Take the initiative and give your widow friend a call and ask them what you can do to brighten their day. When the Lord brings someone who may be hurting to your mind, stop and pray right away. When the Lord stirs your heart to meet a need, take action right away.
It’s so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. It’s easy to become myopic and focus only on your own household. I challenge you to create some space in your budget or your schedule to minister to the ones in our faith family who need you.
Other posts in this series: