The following excerpt was written by Octavius Winslow. Octavius descended from Edward Winslow, a Pilgrim leader who braved the Atlantic to come to the New World on the Mayflower in 1620. Octavius’s father, Thomas, died when he was seven years old. Shortly after that, Octavius’s God-fearing mother took her family of ten children to New York. All of the children became Christians and three sons became evangelical ministers. Octavius later wrote a book about his family’s experiences from his mother’s perspective entitled LIFE IN JESUS. He had an unique understanding of his mother’s widowed heart.
“Let thy widows trust in me.” —Jeremiah 49:11.
It is well! All that He does, who speaks these touching words, is well. It is well with you, for He who gave in love, in love has taken away the mercy that He gave. The companion of your youth, the friend of your bosom, the treasure of your heart, the staff of your riper and the solace of your declining years, is removed, but since God has done it–it is, it must be well.
Look now above the circumstances of your deep and dark sorrow, the second causes of your bereavement, the probable consequences of your loss,–God has done it; and that very God who has smitten, who has bereaved, and who has removed your all of earthy good, now invites you to trust in Him. Chance has not brought you into this state; accident has not bereft you of your treasure; God has made you a widow that you may confide in the widow’s God.
With your peculiar case the Word of God in a pre-eminent degree sympathizes. It would seem, indeed, as if a widow’s sorrow and a widow’s desolateness took the precedence of all other bereavements in the Bible. It is touched with a hand so gentle, it is referred to with a tenderness so exquisite, it is quoted with a solemnity so profound, it would seem as if God had taken the widow’s sorrow, if I may so express myself, into His heart of hearts.
“Ye shall not afflict any widow,” — “He doth execute the judgment of the widow,”–“The sheaf in the field shall be for the widow,”–“He relieveth the widow,”–“He will establish the border of the widow,”–“A judge of the widow is God”–“Plead for the widow,”–“If ye oppress not the widow,”–“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the widows in their affliction,”–“Let your widows trust in me.”
What a cluster of divine and precious consolations for the widow is here! How do their extraordinary appropriateness to her case, their extreme delicacy in dealing with her position, their especial regard for her circumstances; above all, their perfect sympathy with her lonely sorrow, betray the heart from when they flow!
And who is the object of the widow’s trust? “In ME,” says God. None less than Himself can meet your case. He well considers that there is an acuteness in your sorrow, a depth in your loss, a loneliness and a helplessness in your position, which no one can meet but Himself.
The first, the best, the fondest, the most protective of creatures has been torn from your heart, is smitten down at your side; what other creature can now be a substitute? A universe of beings could not fill the void. God in Christ only can. O! Wonderful thought that the Divine Being should come and embosom Himself in the bereft and bleeding heart of a human sufferer–that bereft and bleeding heart of yours.
He is especially the God of the widow. And when He asks your confidence, and invites your trust, and bids you lift your weeping eye from the crumbled idol at your feet, and fix it upon Himself, He offers you an infinite substitute for a finite loss; thus, as He ever does, giving you infinitely more than He took; bestowing a richer and a greater blessing than He removed.
He recalled your husband, but He bestows Himself. And O, the magnitude of this trust! It is to have infinite power to protect you, infinite wisdom to guide you, infinite love to comfort you, infinite faithfulness at all times to stay by you, and boundless resources to supply your every need. It is to have the God who made heaven and earth, the God to whom the spirits of all creatures are subject, the God who gave His dear Son to die for you, the God of the everlasting covenant to be your Shield, your Counselor, your Provider, your God forever and ever and your Guide even unto death.
And what are you invited thus to entrust to God? First, your own self. It is one of the greatest, as it is one of the most solemn peculiarities of the Gospel, that it deals with us as individuals. It never, in all the commands it enjoins, and in all the blessings it promises, loses sight of our individuality. This, then, is a personal confiding. You are to trust yourself into God’s hands.
God seems not to stand to you in a new relation. He has always been your Father and your Friend. To these He now adds the relation of Husband. Your present circumstances seem to invest you with a new claim, not upon His love–for He has always loved you as He loves you now–but upon His especial, His peculiar, His tender care; the affectionate solicitude of the Husband blending with the tender love of the Father. You are to flee to Him in your helplessness, to resort to Him in your loneliness, to confide to Him your wants, and to weep your sorrows upon His bosom.
Secondly, your children. “Leave your fatherless children; I will preserve them alive.” A state of half-orphanage is one of peculiar interest to God. A fatherless child is an object of His especial regard and care.
“Thou art the helper of the fatherless,”—“A father of the fatherless is God,”—“Enter not into the field of the fatherless; for their Redeemer is mighty, he will plead their cause with thee.”
Encouraged by this invitation and this promise, take, then, your fatherless ones, and lay them on the heart of God. He has removed their earthly father, that He may adopt them as His own. His promise that He will “preserve them alive,” you are warranted to interpret in its best and widest sense. It must be regarded as including, not temporal life only, but also spiritual life. God never offers us an inferior blessing, when it is in His power to confer, and our circumstances demand, a greater. He will preserve your fatherless ones alive temporarily, providing all things necessary for their present existence; but, infinitely more than this, He will, in answer to the prayer of faith, preserve their souls unto eternal life. Thus it is a promise of the life that now is, and also of that which is to come.
Thirdly, your concerns are to be entrusted to God. These, doubtless, press at this moment with peculiar weight upon your mind. They are new and strange. They were once cared for by one in whose judgment you had implicit confidence, whose mind thought for you, whose heart beat for you, whose hands toiled for you, who in all things sought to anticipate every wish, to reciprocate every feeling; ‘who lessened his cares by your sympathy, and multiplied his pleasures by your participation;’ whose esteem, and affection, and confidence shed a warm and mellow light over the path of life.
These interests, once confided to his judgment and control, must now be entrusted to a wiser and more powerful friend,—to Him who is truly and emphatically the widow’s God. Transferred to His government, He will make them all his own. Your care will be His cares; your concerns will be His concern; your children will be His children; your need the occasion of His supply; and your fears, perils, and dejection, the period of His soothing, protection, and love.
And just at this period of your life, when every object and every scene appears to your view trembling with uncertainty and enshrouded with gloom, God—the widow’s God—speaks in language well calculated to awaken in your soul a song in the night,—“LET THY WIDOWS TRUST IN ME.”
O! have faith, then, in this word of the living God, and all will be well with you. It will be well with your person, it will be well with your children, it will be well with your estate. The God who cared for the widow of Zarephath, the Saviour who had compassion on the bereaved widow of Nain, is your God and Saviour; and the same regard for your interests, and the same sympathy for your sorrow, will lighten your cares and cheer the desolateness of your widowhood. Only trust in God.
Beware of murmuring at His dealings, of doubting His kindness, of distrusting His word, and of so nursing your grief as to refuse the consolation your God and Saviour proffers you. The sweetest joy may yet spring from your bitter, lonely sorrow; and the richest music may yet awake from your unstrung and silent harp.
If a human power and sympathy could “make the widow’s heart to sing for joy,” O! what joy cannot God’s power and love create in that desolate, bleeding, widowed heart of thine. Place it, then, all stricken and lonely as it is, in God’s hands; and, breathing over it His loving Spirit, He will turn its tears, its sighs, its moanings, into the sweetest midnight harmony.