Tuesday, October 17, 2023

A Word to (Fellow) Widowers (1 Thess. 2:17)

In 2 weeks our family will be commemorating Becky's homegoing on Nov. 3, 2013. Can you believe it's been 10 years? I can't. Boy do I miss her. Thinking about her made me pause while reading 1 Thessalonians 2 in my morning devotions today. 

It was as though Paul was speaking directly to me. Let's notice what he says in verse 17, shall we? 

Observe the powerful metaphor Paul uses here. The Greek verb is aporphanizomai. This word appears only here in the New Testament. It can refer to being "orphaned" from somebody, but it often has a more general meaning. Hence the RSV's "we were bereft of you" and the ESV's "we were torn away from you." Widower friend, doesn't that describe your situation to a t? Your separation from your wife was an unnatural one, both sudden and painful. But notice how Paul goes on to write that the separation was "for the time of an hour" and "in face but not in heart," that is, merely temporal and physical. I love how Eugene Peterson puts it: "It was only our bodies that were separated from you, not our hearts." The Living Bible writes, "Our hearts never left you." 

A decade ago, my bride of 37 years was separated from me, but only in person, not in my heart. Nor, because of the grace of God, is that separation forever. Grieving friend, it's the same with you. I have stories about my loved one. So do you. Let's be bold to tell them. This is a wonderful way to celebrate a life and give as complete a picture as possible of who this person was and what she meant to us. Grief is difficult. But it helps to know that in our weakness God delights to reveal his strength. Resilient widowers have a creed that says, "I believe that heaven is real, that God will see me through, that nothing can separate me from his love, and that he still has work for me to do."

God bless you, my friend.