According to James 1:27, ministry to the widow and fatherless is defined as “pure religion.” Scripture displays the importance of this care all throughout the Bible, especially when we see God at work in the lives of widows, as well as His final act on the cross of entrusting His widowed mother, Mary, into the care of John the beloved.
Many promises are made to the widow and fatherless including Psalm 68:5 where His role as Defender of the widow and Father to the fatherless is declared. Because God shows great compassion for these vulnerable ones and encourages others to do the same, we must first consider who the widow is.
Widow in the Greek is chera which means to be bereft (robbed, suffered loss, and left alone). According to John MacArthur, “there is nothing in this word to narrow the definition or limit it to death. It means a woman who lost her husband in any way, death, divorce, desertion, or anything” (Source: John MacArthur, Widows in the Church).
Widowhood is no respecter of persons. Women become widowed at all ages, with different personalities, financial statuses, family situations, and needs, placing them all in unique categories.
Merriam-Webster defines a widow by divorce or desertion as a grass widow. Her husband is alive but away pursuing other interests, leaving her alone. Perhaps you could say that he left believing that the grass would be greener on the other side of the fence.
Regardless of how this woman came to be left alone by her husband, she is considered a widow and likely in need of care.
5 Ways to Care for the Grass Widow
- Show compassion in the same way that you would for a woman left alone by death. Widows by divorce or desertion are often treated as lesser than the women left alone by death.
- Understand that she is often blamed for her marital state, even if divorce was not her choice.
- Pray for her. Not only does she carry the title of divorce or deserted, but also shame regardless of the circumstances.
- Provide the assistance she needs. This might include financial help or counsel and repairs on her automobile or home.
- Help her children. They need mentors and support for the journey if they have been alienated from their earthly dad.
When a woman has been left alone, they come under the care of God Himself, who shows utmost compassion. He keeps a watchful eye on these ladies and their children, promising to bless the work of the hands of those who bless the widow (Deuteronomy 14:29).
“Do not move the ancient boundary or go into the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; He will plead their case against you” (Proverbs 23:10-11, NASB).