When I question my purpose in life or find myself at a crossroad not knowing which way to turn, the truth in God’s Word reminds me that He chose me for a specific purpose. The gift of knowing that God has a plan and purpose for my life encourages me. Along with that fact is the beautiful promise that the days of my life were written in a book even before time began – knowing this gives great security and peace. When pain was inserted into my life, I held onto the simple phrase, “for my good and His glory.” Oh how I wanted to see God’s glory and for Him to be glorified. For me, God’s glory to and through me was the purpose for my suffering.
1. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10
2. “My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:14-16
3. “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” – Job 42:2
4. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” –Genesis 50:20
5. “For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:15
When trials come that seem to intercept God’s plan, I know that God is still there. He promises to use what was meant for evil for good, nothing can stop His plans, and God is always at work for my good and His glory!
Last week we crossed over the 20th anniversary of my husband’s death. Without fail, this day still produces a catch in my throat, tear in my eye, and tenderness in my heart. It doesn’t take much effort for memories of the trauma to flood my soul even for my children as well.
Is that okay? I think so. May 17th is our Good Friday—a dark day of death. Are we emotionally stuck even after two solid decades? I don’t think so. For the Apon family of nine, remembering this scene in life’s drama has been good, necessary, and impossible to avoid. This is the day that changed the trajectory of our lives.
From our finite view, this day wasn’t supposed to happen, or was it? God wrote the story in a book even before time began. Because of Psalm 139 we know He knew, but did He allow or appoint such suffering? The same unanswered questions remain. The enemy knows when and how to use these to bring torment, if I let him. However, like Job, my response to silence the enemy keeping me at a place of surrender to my God is this information is too wonderful for me!
God responded to Job’s questions with the reminder of Who He was instead of explaining what He was doing. In my Bible, the title of this section makes me smile, “Job’s wise silence.” We are told that Job even put a hand over his mouth almost as if to say, “I am nothing, know nothing, and already said too much.” I can relate to Job.
“Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
When you break down the word wonderful in this famous response, it means marvelous, surpassing, extraordinary, beyond one’s power, and difficult to understand. Most of us easily admit that suffering is beyond our control and too difficult to understand, but to define suffering as marvelous, surpassing, and extraordinary requires an eternal faith-based perspective. Shifting the focus from the natural to the supernatural is often a moment by moment, day by day, week by week and year by year requirement for healing.
It has been a great joy to fulfill God’s call to meet the practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the widow and fatherless through Perspective Ministries! Since the beginning of the year we have met 314 emotional needs, 102 spiritual needs and reminded the fatherless 119 times that God is Father as promised in Psalm 68:5.
Emotional needs are met through the timely arrival of a bouquet of flowers, cards, butterfly gardens, ice cream gift cards, Easter lilies, and resources to help with the grief process. Spiritual needs are met as we disciple widows through our monthly WidowLife support groups. And we are always looking for opportunities to encourage the widowed mom. Her job is difficult, and we feel it is important to remind her that God is there as her defender and the Father to her children. It’s exciting to have already gifted camp scholarships for four fatherless girls this year!
God’s timing is always perfect as Jennifer shares:
I thought about not sending my daughters to church camp this year thinking we might use the money for elsewhere, but the Lord spoke clearly to my heart, and I knew they were supposed to go and room together as sisters. I spoke to them about this idea and learned that they really wanted to go, and this news made them happy!
As I was paying their deposit, I was told to write their names on the memo line. As I was writing, the staff member said, “Ivey and Erica? You won’t believe this, but Perspective Ministries just called let us know they wanted to scholarship your girls for camp!” WOW, this was an enormous financial blessing and the timing confirmed that they are supposed to go. God’s will is undeniable! Thank you Perspective Ministries!!!
Often, we hear stories of how a card, gift, or visit was perfectly timed by the Lord.
Looking for ways to care for the widow in a practical and meaningful way this spring and summer? Through the years Perspective Ministries has found some amazing ways to bring light and love into these women and children’s lives. We would be honored for you to make a donation in one or more of these areas of need. Help us make this spring and summer one to remember!
As Mother’s Day approaches, let’s remember the Widowed Mom as her job can often continue to be hard and heavy. Pray she meets God as her el Roi, the One who sees. “According to U.S. census bureau as of 2009, there are around 13.7 million single parents in the United States alone. These parents are managing to raise around 21.8 million children – which in case you are wondering is 1/4th of all the children in the United States. This means that 1 out of every 4 children is being raised in a single parent household. Of these households, around 87% of them are headed up by one of the most powerful, levelheaded and adept people on earth. A single mom.” (Professors House, A Tribute to Single Moms)
A great way to show a Widowed Mom you care is by giving her and her kids a fun night off! Consider donating to Perspective Ministries as we care for Widowed Moms on Mother’s Day:
$25-50: Bruster’s Ice Cream Gift Cards
$100: Restaurant Gift Cards
$150: Mother’s Day Pampering Basket
Delivering flowers or planting them in her garden reminds her that when her focus is on God, she can bloom where she is planted! Will you make a donation to helping the widow feel seen by her community in this way?
$75: Sending Her Flowers
$300: Plant Her Garden
$500: Maintain Her Yard (this will allow Perspective Ministries to provide consistent lawn care, especially through the warmer months).
One of the biggest gifts you can give to a Widowed Mom is loving her fatherless children well! Please consider making a donation to Perspective Ministries as we provide a summer of love to both the Widow-Mom and her kids!
$25: Butterfly Gardens for the widow and her kids! (this is a great reminder that life can indeed come after death!)
$25-100: Gift Cards for summer activities and travel
$250: Send a Fatherless Child to Camp!
$50-500: Give them a day to relax (Day passes to White Water/Aquarium/Movies)
Thank you for caring for the widow and her children! We are excited that you have entrusted Perspective Ministries with your donation as together we care for the widows and children God has led to us.
To make a donation, click here!
A famine required relocation for survival taking Naomi, her husband, and two sons to a completely new place. Soon after their arrival, Naomi’s husband died leaving her a widow in a strange idol-worshiping land.
Being transported to a physical far-off land isn’t necessary for a widow to feel estranged in her own community. When the curtain falls signaling the end of the marriage season, women left alone often experience loss of the familiar taking them to unknown territory emotionally and sometimes physically. Here she finds herself in an identity crisis—she is no longer a wife, but a widow with the potential not only to uproot her physical being but her identity as well. One moment she is Mrs. Elimelech and overnight she became Naomi-the-widow, asking who am I?
Within a few short years, Naomi also buried her two sons! Talk about potential to lose identity—she was now no longer a wife or a mom! I will be the first to admit how easy it is to wrap ourselves up in the identity of who we are to other people or for other people instead of who God says we are. Not only do our roles in our family vie for our identity, but our dreams and aspirations also create a sense of a false self—someone I want to be but deep inside I am not. Don’t fret, the Apostle Paul struggled with this identity dilemma as well when he cried out, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate…miserable person that I am” (Romans 7:15,24).
In order to identify someone or something, one must recognize traits that establish the person or thing. If three objects were presented for identification, their characteristics would help one to identify that specific substance. For example: hard, grey, and mass of stone would help one to detect a rock. Noticing a transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid would aid in detecting water. We recognize people in similar fashion—by their appearance, sound of voice, or the way they smell. These characteristics help to clarify who we are; however, identity is determined not only by outward appearance but who we are as a whole.
For the Christian, Jesus Christ plays a huge part in our identity. In fact, Jesus paid a high price—purchased us with His blood so that our identity would be in Him and not ourselves. We must die daily allowing Christ to live His life in us. My identity is no longer my own unique personality, but His. If someone wants to identify a Christ follower, the characteristics of Jesus Christ must be evident, “no longer I but Christ.” My identity should not be based on who I think I should be or who others want me to be but in who Jesus says that I am. My identity is in Christ.
Rejected: I am God’s special possession
“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 14:2
Betrayed: I am chosen by God
“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION…” 1 Peter 2:9
Worthless: God treasures me
“The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you…” Deuteronomy 26:18
Messed up: Forgiven
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
In bondage: Free indeed
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Unprotected: God is a Defender of the widow
“… a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5
Unloved: Loved beyond comprehension
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
Set aside: Set apart
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain…” John 15:16
Widowed: Jesus is a Husband to the widow
“For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 54:5
Fatherless: Child of God~Fathered
“A father to the fatherless is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5
Insecure: Eternally security
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28
When tragedy strikes, it is easy to place our identity in that crisis instead of Christ. Our circumstances become our identity—widow, divorced, betrayed, fatherless, rich, or poor. Naomi returned home embracing the identity of bitter only to discover as time went on that God would change her circumstances to better. Did you know that this bitter-circumstanced-widow became the great, great, great, great, great grandmother of Jesus Christ?! That’s right! Her daughter-in-law from that foreign land followed her home experiencing conditions allowing her to meet Boaz—her kinsman redeemer placing her in the bloodline of Christ.
Anna was left alone after a brief seven years of marriage. The only part of her life that God chose to include in His Word is that she spent the rest of her life serving in the temple until the age of 84. Oh, to know exactly what this must have looked like. Did she have a bedroom there in the house of God? As a prophetess, “a woman to whom future events or things hidden from others are at times revealed,” was she on the temple staff? “She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.” Wow! She never ever left the temple? Was this her decision? Did she have other options? Did she actually pray from sunrise to sunset?
Fasting is giving up food for the purpose of prayer. Scripture records only one instance where Jesus fasted (Matthew 4:2) but His 40 day fast was unlike any other—it prepared Him for His three-year ministry that would end in victory of resurrection life over death.
Jesus, the Son of God, is known for prayer:
“But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Luke 5:16
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Matthew 26:36
If Jesus chose to fast and pray, these disciplines are worth our consideration as well. The widow, Anna, is the kind of woman I would like to enjoy a cup of tea with learning the details of her story and prayer life. Even though much is left out, there is enough information to present a challenge for our own personal lives:
She never left the temple. News and anticipation of a coming Messiah hovered over time and space. In those days, the temple represented the presence of God – He was there even before He was there! Anna chose to remain in the presence of God for the rest of her life in the absence of the man in her life. We don’t need to take up actual residence in the local church building today because through Jesus, God makes His home in us.
During our dark seasons of grief, we can choose to leave God in or out of our life. But He is indeed our covering and defense. With this promise, we can take Anna’s perspective to live in His presence—to never leave the temple. During the storm, to see God as refuge and fortress—and discovering great is His faithfulness.
She served day and night. One of the realities of being left alone is that you have been left alone. Time is on your hand even if you have been launched into the busiest season you’ve ever known with the extra tasks on your plate without a husband. How you spend your time is yours. When Joshua was called to lead His people to the Promise Land, he professed, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Precious friend, may we be like Anna in making the same declaration – as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. This new season has great opportunity. You can let life’s circumstances become a crutch to lean on or a chisel to mold you into a vessel of great use in God’s Kingdom.
She served with fastings and prayers. Anna modeled for us important tools required for serving the Lord and walking through this journey – with fasting and prayer. Fasting is surrendering lack in exchange for His presence and power paired with talking to the Almighty God in prayer.
Because of Anna’s position in the valley with over 60 years of fasting and praying while waiting for the arrival of the Messiah, when the Jesus was presented in the temple as a babe she recognized Him, gave thanks to God and shared this great news with others!
“At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36-38
Trusting God with our finances can be so scary, especially after losing the security of a loved one. In the uncertainty of the widow’s journey, it can be so easy to close our hands around what is left after the death, but greater freedom will be found in opening our hands and provisions to God, allowing Him to do what He wills! But we know that trust and change doesn’t usually happen overnight, so here are so verses to give you confidence in our one true Provider.
Oh, what a joyous time it is to watch and experience the birth of Spring! The miracle of life after death is simply glorious. Although the widow may feel encouraged by the warmth and beauty of spring, frost may continue in her grieving heart. As society makes plans for getaways and summer fun with their loved ones, her monotonous routine remains the same–alone. Alone to figure out ways to dust off her home, make repairs, and manage her lawn. Perhaps God would use you to lighten her load by considering meeting one of these practical needs.
1. Help her with spring cleaning:
2. Help her usher in spring:
3. Remember her on Mother’s Day!
The job of the widowed-mom is hard and heavy. One out of every four children in the United States is being raised by a single parent, most of which are single moms.
4. Include her in your summer outings and plans:
5. Provide for a day trip or weekend away
Gift cards for food and gas will help make a simple retreat possible.
6. Offer transportation
7. Enlist a trusted handyman for home repairs
Make arrangements to come and conquer her “to-do” list—paint a room, re-arrange furniture, or fix that leaky faucet.
8. Provide summer fun for her fatherless children.
Loving on her children is a gift to her. One of the main concerns for the young widow is her children.
Out of all the widows we surveyed, their greatest ongoing struggle is loneliness. Take time to pick up the phone to let her know she isn’t forgotten.
Widows love a hand-written note just to let them know you care.
Give your time away. Be intentional about planning a time to listen to her, keeping in mind that adult conversation may be limited in her new season.
Dear God, thank you for showing us that life comes after death. We thank you for Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the grave, so we can experience new life in Christ. Please remind the precious widow of this truth. May she experience life after her own season of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Please let her feel your Presence as she waits on you in this season.
“They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain.” Job 29:23
No doubt the minute you entered this valley of transition, money crossed your mind – or the minds of family and friends – carrying with it a variety of emotions. Immediate loss or gain of income, the need to go to work or quit work, the fear of low income or responsibility of new riches could be a part of the loss you are experiencing.
Even though many widows are reduced to living on a poverty level, others represent some of the wealthiest women in the world. Money has power. It can bring false security and attempt to fill a void that only Jesus can fill. Or it can be a tool the Lord uses to build His kingdom and test our hearts.
Studies abound that tell us what we already know: for the most part, the income of a single woman is less – sometimes dramatically – than the income of a single man. There may be bills, known and unknown, that pile up, and accounts and invoices we did not know existed and aren’t sure how to handle. This is not true for all women, but it is a reality for some. Either way, we must cultivate a deeper trust in the Lord, whether riches abound or poverty crouches at the door.
In 2 Kings we get to see first-hand a widow whose financial burdens lurk at her door. I love it when God highlights a woman in Scripture that many can relate to, especially when it’s a widow. Our identity is not in our status whether married, single, divorced, or widowed; however, it is interesting that often when God performs a miracle of faith for or through a widow, He mentions her identity—widow. Perhaps He does this just so other widows can be encouraged or perhaps because those He has allowed to carry the title widow have a calling and purpose that only God can fill because of His title, Husband to the widow.
In order to excel in our role as widow, we must understand that it is our job description to walk by faith. We have a clear example of this through the widow in 2 Kings.
When the curtain opens on act one, our 2 Kings (2K) widow is distraught. She has circumstances and needs similar to ours…a family, bills, loss, and pain. She faces these daily battles all while the shadow of grief hovers over her, yet we will begin to see how she is always under the umbrella of grace.
Mrs. 2K just experienced the death of her husband. He was a godly man; in fact, he was one of the sons of the prophets (possibly Obadiah). Wow—a very important person to the people and to God! Let’s take a peek into her situation. Would God allow pain to knock on her door? After-all, her family had given their lives to the ministry! The answer is yes He will, and He does. We are never exempt from pain in the economy of God. It seems that the environment of suffering is His favorite place to rain His grace and display the rainbow of His great glory.
Creditors knocked on this particular day to summon the precious sons of this brand-new widow! How could this be? Her husband just died, and now the city officials announce they have a right to her sons because of insufficient funds to pay her debt. My guess would be that many have received notice from the bank announcing ISF, insufficient funds! That declaration in itself stabs at our stomachs, but to face the removal of a child would be a stab to the heart!
At this moment of need she cries out to Elisha, the top prophet in the land, for help. Was access to this man of God really as easy as Scripture reads? Before Mrs. 2K could pack away the past, God had made away for her present. Before she faced judgment for her debt, God sent the Judge to her defense. “God is a judge of the widow.”
Elisha asks, “What shall I do for you?”
The answer to the first question would be obvious, “Mr. Elisha, SAVE MY SONS!” I believe a secret lies within his reply. Elisha himself could do nothing for her outside of the amazing grace of God.
The second question, what do you have in your house? Brings us to the place where all miracles begin—where we are.
Her response, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” We know from past Bible precedence that this is the perfect setting for God to work—at the moment of last things and resources. (Oil is often symbolic of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.) When empty best describes the situation, we know that an eternal purpose is in the heart of God.
She was issued a command,
“Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few.”
So here she is at her end. Others now must be included in the story—her neighbors, of all people. I wonder if they had heard the news and gasped, “Poor widow (literally) to lose sons because of debt.” God is certainly able to perform a miracle without the audience of her neighborhood. However, in this crisis, the neighbors were summoned. After the jars were collected, the widow gathered her family, shut the door, and poured oil.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
The widow had to step out in faith. She had to GO to her neighbors (uncomfortable), she had to GET a lot (unquestionable), and she was to GAIN provision (un-natural provision that is) not only for her debt, but for the rest of her life. The miracle took place because of her faith, and her provision was measured by her faith.
We are encouraged in Scripture that a faith capable of moving mountains begins the size of a small mustard seed. However, considering Mrs. 2K’s testimony, mustard seed faith is just the beginning of what God wants to do in our lives. To the extent of this widow’s faith was the amount of her provision. Do we obey in the areas God calls us to? Are we willing to include others? Are there regrets over the amount of faith we offer to God?
“And it came about when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not one vessel more.’ And the oil stopped. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” 2 Kings 4:6-7.