WidowLife Wisdom: The Widow Defined

Many define a widow as a woman whose husband has died, but a message by John MacArthur helps us to understand:

“The word ‘widow’ is chera. . . It means bereft. It means robbed. It means having suffered loss. It carries the idea of being alone. It comes from cheros and that’s what that means…bereft, robbed, having suffered loss, being left alone. The word then doesn’t speak about how a woman came into this situation. It simply describes the situation. . . there is nothing in this word to narrow the definition that it is limited to death. In fact, if you do any kind of study of this word and trace it through classical Greek usages, you will find the word means a woman who lost her husband in any way…death, divorce, desertion, anything.” (Source: John MacArthur, Widows in the Church)

Widowhood is no respecter of persons. Women become widowed at all ages, with different personalities, financial status, family situations, and needs, placing them in unique categories:

  1. Widow Indeed

The Biblical Widow Indeed has no family or resources; she is truly all alone. This is the widow the Word of God commands the church to care for 1 Timothy 5.

2. Widow in Distress

James 1:27 tells us that pure religion is to visit the widow and fatherless in their distress.

3. New Widow

Being new to widowhood requires a transition that can last two years.

4. Widow Mom

The Widow Mom manages not only her own grief and the new responsibilities regarding maintaining her life and home, but she also carries the grief of her children.

5. Young Widow

Women left alone in their twenties and thirties often seek to remarry, and perhaps they should, as the Apostle Paul says, “I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach” (1 Timothy 5:14).

6. Older Widow 

The elderly represents the stereotype of a widow. She is often shut-in requiring extra care.

7. Financially Sound Widow

Many disregard providing care for this woman, assuming that money can buy anything; however, she will still grieve the loss of her husband experiencing loneliness and has a need for compassion.

8. Financially Desperate Widow

She will need safe and sound wisdom, guidance, and help.

9. Entitlement Mentality Widow 

She will need redirecting focus from people meeting all of her needs her needs to God.

10. Grass Widow

This widow has been separated, divorced, or has been left alone by her husband who believed the lie that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.

11. Unique Situation Widow: 

All widows are uniquely designed by God; these may be grouped together with special ministry needs due to cancer, military duty, suicide, murder, or other types of tragic death.

While each of the different types of widows come with a unique set of needs requiring individualized care, it is our prayer that they all put their trust in God. He is the only one that can satisfy her deepest need.