bonnie vickers kit hinkle a new season a widows might memorial day

Remembering with Joy

 

                                 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”

                                                                                                         Philippians 1:3 (ESV)

Memorial Day.

A day that triggers a variety of “images” as we recognize and observe this national holiday.  To some, it simply means the beginning of summer.  To others, it marks a notable day of remembrance to those who selflessly served this great country in a branch of the Armed Forces.

My husband was grateful to serve in the US Navy.  He deeply revered  those who served and made certain to express his gratitude.  Although he did not lose his life during his service, I am proud to remember his dedication to our country.  Today, I will proudly display the “red, white and blue” in remembrance of him and his fellow veterans.  I will attend the Memorial Day service at the National Cemetery where my husband’s remains are placed. And I will reflect with a grateful heart for his safe keeping, while remembering those who gave ALL.

This day also brings a different kind of remembrance to my mind.  Thirty-one years ago today is the eve of what was undoubtedly one of the most precious days of my life.  It was the eve of our wedding day.  I was a young twenty-four year old girl, in love,  preparing to spend the rest of my life with my good looking Navy guy.   I could only see blue skies ahead as we looked forward to growing  old together.  But God had different plans.

I can not help but to think of all the widows I have met this past year.  I have heard numerous stories of “how” they came to be a part of widowhood.  And I can’t help but believe, the last day their husbands took their final earthly breaths to be a day of remembrance for them;  a “personal memorial day”, if I may say so.  These stories are raw, gut-wrenching and sad.  The lives of their beloved husbands hold pride, history, meaning, sacrifice and purpose. Much like the way we hold dear the remembrance of veterans on this holiday, the day of our husband’s passing is a day to reflect and revere as well.

But can we remember joyously?

It will take some time, my sisters.  And a lot of trust.  There will come a day when remembering is not as painful.  When Paul writes to Philippi, he frequently uses the words “joy” and “rejoicing” even while chained and imprisoned.  Paul speaks in great confidence of “He who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6).  God has begun a good work in all of us, my Christian friends.  It did not end when our beloved spouse’s work here on earth ended.  We must carry on to complete what He has begun in us. Just like our nation prevails through turmoil and  we take time to remember how far we have come.  We as widows carry on alone, by the grace of God, and remember the way our husbands’ lives have shaped our own.

I encourage you to meditate on His Word and cry out for His guidance.   I am grateful that I can now remember the twenty-six years I shared with my  husband with joy.  I push on, as we all must, in honor of my husband.

Today, Father God, I remember the countless lives who have selflessly served our great country.  I pray You will bless the families of these service men and women.  I lift up my fellow widows, Lord, who also reflect on their days of remembrance of their precious husbands.  Comfort them, as only You can, Lord.  I pray as they seek Your guidance for their work, You will open the window of trust.  Amen.

Want to read another great article from our team on Memorial Day? Click here! (by Liz Anne Wright)

kit hinkle a new season a widows might

Don’t Entertain the Enemy’s Conversations

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

Genesis 3:1-4 (ESV)

Do you catch yourself trying to solve your way out of a bog of grief by thinking through it, only to sink deeper? I remember that feeling in those first few years of grief. Sometimes, I thought all I had to do was think about a way out of this sadness.  I would think and think, and find myself trapped in an emotional conversation with my worst enemy–the accuser. If you are there now, be encouraged.  It gets better.  Here is an article I wrote in my fourth year of grief, when I finally learned to identify pointless conversations with the devil.  Once I knew his game, I could break free from it! I hope reading where I was at year four blesses you:

I’m struck by how quickly Eve got trapped by the serpent’s conversation. At first they were just talking. Before she knew it, she found herself twisting what God really told her about the forbidden fruit. How did she get on that conversation in the first place?

Then I thought about the anxious cycles of self-talk that only led me to further unrest. How do I get in those dialogues with myself? And are these conversations with myself or the enemy?

Eve’s first mistake was to underestimate to whom she was talking. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone gifted at talking circles around you?  You end up flustered and unable to keep track of the truths in your own heart!

I have a cousin who is great at flustering people. We got along just great until I became a believing Christian. He became adversarial, initiating conversations about God—not sincere questions, but lures. He’d use his gift of gab to muddle me into tripping over my own words about faith, sometimes leaving me in tears. Then he would laugh at me. It was when my cousin laughed at my crying that I recognized the enemy working through him.

Isn’t that how satan works? He flusters a widow–twists her up in her thinking, until she buys into his lies. In The Silent Seduction of Self Talk, author Shelly Beach describes the inner voices that widows are particularly susceptible to falling prey to. What are yours? How about these…

I can’t go to church alone.

I can’t fix a faucet.

I can’t remember to take the trash out—that was my spouse’s job.

My kids will always be at a disadvantage without a father.

There’s no one else good enough to marry.

Married couples only want to socialize with other couples—no one wants to hang out with a widow.

I can’t manage my finances alone.

It would be selfish to do things for myself—my kids need me.

Do you know what to do when you get in these conversations?  I learned what to do when my cousin provoked me into another debate. I recognized with whom I’m tangling and stop tangling.

To argue with my cousin will fluster me into stumbling over my words.  I’ve learned to keep my conversations on Godly truths with him brief and straight from God’s Word. Jesus did this. Each time satan tempted him in the wilderness, Jesus answered, “It is written….”  Now when my cousin attacks, I simply leave him something to ponder about rather than engage in a long conversation with him.

Why can’t we do this with satan himself?

We can!  Just recognize the danger of letting the enemy worm confusing thoughts in our hearts. Stop him before he gets a chance. Arm ourselves with spiritual truths and reverse the lies. Yes, God will introduce me to new people at church. Yes, anyone can fix a faucet if they clear their minds and take it one step at a time. Yes, taking out the trash is my responsibility. God hasn’t given me more than I can handle.

Father God, please help our sisters to learn how to reverse satan’s lies and turn to You only.  Encourage them to talk over their worries with You and let Your Truth reign in their hearts. Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about battling satan?  Here are some articles you might try:

Obstacles or Opportunities? by Elizabeth Dyer

Pride is NOT Pretty by Teri Cox

 

liz anne nay wright kit hinkle a new season a widows might

Story Keepers

Now some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for they counted them when they brought them in and when they took them out. – I Chronicles 9:28 NASB

My dad is a great story teller. Even to this day, he tells what we call “Pig Stories” about the summers he spent on his grandfather’s tobacco farm as a kid. We need to get him to write them down and make a book! There was lots of work to be done, but he and his cousins had a lot of fun in the process. My sister and I always laughed at the crazy stories, but we also learned lessons about life and the times…and people we never met, like my great grandmother, long passed by the time I was born. I treasure those stories today.

As a widow, I am the keeper of a story—my story, the story of my life and of the man I lost. It is my job to keep that story true to him who was here with me and Him who is King of my life.

In sharing that story, my husband lives on in an additional way here on earth. More importantly, I have an opportunity to talk of the glory of our Lord.

I have a dear friend who lost her husband a couple weeks ago. She and I saw each other last week for the first time. Understandably, she had a lot of questions. Here is a new opportunity for me to tell pieces of my story, pieces that perhaps would not have meant as much to her until she was walking this same path.

This friend never knew Keith, never knew the great guy he was, except for what she has heard in stories. Yet, he lives to her because she sees my boys, sees our life. And that has given her courage to move forward in her own journey.

Our story is nothing out of the ordinary. We are a pretty average family…four kids and a somewhat crazy mom trying to hold it all together. Yet…because of the bigness of our God, we often have the opportunity inspire those around us…just by walking closely with Him, by telling His part in the story.

About a year after Keith died, our local newspaper did a story on our family and how we were dealing with our grief. As the story keeper, I eagerly shared, weaving in threads of who Keith was and Who God is. A widow in our area read that story and contacted me through the newspaper. Our stories were very similar. We have been friends for six years now, sharing our boys’ triumphs and lows (she has three boys; I have four), stories about our sweet husbands, and holding each other up in prayer.

Sisters, we are all just cogs in the very big wheel of life.  We do our small job in our small area of the kingdom, just as those who counted utensils did in the verse above.  But that doesn’t mean our story is not important. Our willingness to share even small pieces of the life we are living may bless someone’s day, give them the reality check they desperately need, let them know they are not alone in what they are feeling, or be the final piece of the puzzle that leads to their salvation. I pray that we can all step out boldly as the story keepers of our lives, to the glory of Him who gave us that life.

Father, sometimes I feel small and insignificant, like this path I have been on has been for naught. Help me to see Your purpose in my story, and help me to be a bold story keeper for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

karen emberlin kit hinkle a new season a widows might trusting god widowhood support

Lead Me- Guide Me- Walk Beside Me

Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need….Psalm 23:1 (TLB)

It’s Springtime!  Where I live, we are excited about seeing the grass turning green, new leaves coming out on the trees, flowers beginning to bloom, and even some warmer days.  It is refreshing to begin this “new season”.

A “new season” – oh, there are still so many days I wish I could really get excited about that on this journey of widowhood!

As I look back over the months I have been traveling this path, I can see the many different stages  experienced. My husband and I were married for forty-eight years and worked together for the majority of that time.  We were literally together twenty-four seven, so there were so many new things I had to encounter.  I now know what it is like to learn to be alone.  I know what it is like to make a major move early in my journey.  I know what it is to learn to make decisions on my own.  You see because my husband was called to his heavenly home unexpectedly, my entire life was turned upside down in a matter of minutes.

In the beginning, I was so doubtful I could ever survive alone.  However, God had other plans in mind for me.  As the minutes, hours, and days progressed I began to realize how much God loved me and how much He wanted to be a part of all the decisions I needed to make.  My desire for Him began to increase and I soon realized, again, He has the answers to all the questions and situations I face each day.  He even tells me in Psalm 23:1 (TLB) “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!”

I am a very “human” person, so I continually have to be reminded of His promises.   Oh how thankful I am for the many ways He continues to do that.  I have a wonderful family, many friends, my church, music, but most of all His word.  I know as long as I keep my eyes focused on Him, He will continue to take care of me!

Yes, for many years, I depended on my husband to help lead me, guide me, and walk beside me!   We were a “normal” couple and had our ups and downs like everyone else, but we were happy and I thought we were doing OK.  However, since my husband’s departure to heaven, God continues to re-affirm to me and to show me how He is there to help me with every decision I need to make.

We all go through tough times – before and after the loss of our beloved husbands.  At certain times, it feels like we’ve met our end and can’t go on anymore.  However, we can claim for ourselves that through Christ, God is our portion forever No matter how weak we may be, God can carry us through because we know that God’s strength, which dwells right inside our hearts, is strength like no other.

My dear Sisters, I pray that you will let His strength carry you!  Ask Him to “Lead You, Guide You, and Walk Beside You”.

Even though our lives are so different than we would ever have asked for, with Him, we can have a “new season”, even through this journey of widowhood.

Father God, sometimes it is hard to go on, but I know You care, and I trust You.  I know You will keep me in perfect peace when my mind is stayed on You!   Thank you for taking care of me and my dear Sisters.  Amen

lifecoach

Life Coach

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (ESV)

My pastor uses this verse to articulate a choice we make daily—whom do we use as a life coach? The enemy or Christ?

I thought about how the thief can fool women into twisting our challenges in the wrong direction.

How does he do that, and what would Christ have you do to respond to your struggles instead?

Grief is critical for moving forward, and it’s important to experience it and have patience with the time it takes to process your loss.  But I’ve learned to distinguish between the healthy process of grieving and signals that the thief has come to steal my future using the pain of my loss.  Let me know if you have too. I’m wondering if a run-through of a list of these might help some of us practice looking for these signals.  Here are mine.

1.       The thief coaches you into analysis paralysis. Christ comforts you and then coaches you to comfort others. In the first years of grief, I prayed and journaled about my loss, talking through feelings with a confidant.  All that gave me godly healing and comfort.  There came a time, though, when even though I knew I was healing, I found myself tempted to isolate, as though “thinking through” my loneliness would solve it.  How wrong I was.  The more I analyzed it, the more I started to wonder what was up with me—why I felt worse.  My pastor suggested I try something different— reach out and help someone lonelier than I.  I went to soup kitchens and closets, and began to pay more attention to friends and acquaintances around me who needed comfort in their situations.  Soon I forgot my own problems and found myself lifted and fulfilled.

2.       The thief coaches busyness for comfort. Christ coaches purposeful action—with prayer and time with Him topping your action list. At first I found myself consumed with the desire to organize my house. Some of it was healthy, some not.  I had to discern when God was calling me to put order to something that was interfering with moving forward in my life, and when I was simply rearranging the clutter just to get my mind off of grief.  A signal I was beginning to just rearrange to keep busy was when I found myself making appointments just to fill time so I wouldn’t have to sit by myself.  That was the thief whispering to me, “Stay busy, it doesn’t matter that you’re not accomplishing anything—just stay busy.”  Christ doesn’t say that.  He says, “…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)  Christ knows how He designed you and what actions bring fulfilling accomplishments rather than futile busyness.

3.       The thief says to go to the phone. Christ says to first go to the throne. I have those moments when the phone isn’t ringing and I’m surrounded only by my kids and I long for adult companionship—someone to talk to who doesn’t call me Mom.  My first instinct is to call someone.  I’ve learned that isn’t always healthy.  Christ says, “Come to Me all who are weary.”  I check in with Him.  Sometimes He encourages me to call a godly sister in Christ. Many times He, Himself, frees me from the weariness so I don’t even need to use the phone at all.  Soon I learned being alone isn’t as hard as I thought.

4.       The thief rushes you into life changes. Christ shows you He’s enough for now. Our world is so coached by the enemy that wants you to believe in quick fixes.  Soon after losing their spouses, many widows find themselves craving companionship and tempted to jump into a marriage. The Lord promises to defend the widow (Psalm 68:5).  If you first learn to accept His Lordship in your life and walk alone with Him for a time, you’ll find that later you’ll be better prepared to take on an earthly husband again.

5.       The thief tells you to be afraid. Christ commands you not to fear. Many of us resist the temptation to jump into relationships so well that we then feel comfortable on our own and wonder what might go wrong if we consider another marriage.  Those concerns are healthy as long as we don’t let the enemy twist those into consuming fear that keeps us alone for life.  Far from being the author of fear, Christ tells us on five occasions in the Book of John not to fear.

I’d love to add to the list if you have areas you’ve come to notice are signals that you need to turn to Christ.

Dear Lord, show our sisters that in these seasons of weakness, no matter how difficult and testing, You teach us to lean on you. Help each sister learn that by leaning on You, she becomes closer to Who exactly You made her to be. Amen.

Blessings, and I pray your week in your widowhood journey is fruitful.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about hearing God’s voice?  Here are some articles you might try:

My Own Patmos by Elizabeth Dyer

God’s Got Your Ticket by Kit Hinkle

 

teri cox kit hinkle a new season a widows might daryls music makers

Words On a Page

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.  And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.  And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”      Ezekiel 37:1-3 ESV

Do you ever feel like you have said all there is to say?

No

More

Words…

You simply want someone to get it, without having to speak.

Sometimes, I get tired of talking. This can be a real problem, since talking is how I make my living. But there are days, when I just want to be done talking, explaining, retelling, and reliving.

Sometimes, I want to be:

Still

Quite

Lost

Sometimes, I want to escape and leave the world behind. Usually it occurs when I am trying to minister and teach on “empty”. You know what I mean? When you are “empty”, your tank is dry. There is nothing left for you to give, and you feel like a pile of dry bones, waiting to be brought back to life. We cannot live or love when we are on empty.

In those moments, the only way I can fill back up is to spend time with God or with people who don’t need me to talk. Other widows get widowhood. There is no need for explanation, we just know. A hug can speak a thousand words among widows. Yet, the world does not work the same way, especially in America, where we live at such a fast pace. People don’t like to talk about grief. Maybe it is fear of saying the wrong thing or fear of being caught up in grief, themselves. No matter the reason, I have turned to journaling as a way of “discussing” issues.

Journaling has helped me simply get everything out without having to open my mouth and speak. I can sit with my pen, a beautiful journal, and just pour out my thoughts to God. In the middle of my feelings and my words on a page, I can find hope and perspective.

Hope to manage.

Hope to glorify.

Hope  to trust.

Faith always calls us to believe past what we see. It calls us to know and be known. It calls us to bear witness even when our circumstances scream, “NO!” When my faith is being bullied by my world, leaning into God refreshes my spirit and gives me new zeal.

I long to find victory through Christ and inspire others through my journey, but sometimes I have to remember why and how. If your life is loud or a deafening silence, right now, get alone with God and let Him fill you up with His presence and power. Let Him give you strength.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29 (NIV)

God,  Help us to find You when we are on empty. Help us to allow Your presence to fill us up to capacity with Your power, love, and strength. Restore our dry bones, Lord, and help us to LIVE again. In the matchless name of Jesus we pray. AMEN! 

 

 

devotional books for widows a new season a widows might kit hinkle

Devotional Books

 

Place your order soon!

You don’t want to miss a single day of our devotionals!

Over a year ago, Elizabeth offered to take on the challenge of publishing and editing our devotional books.  It is such a huge team project, with writers who were formerly with our team and writers currently on our team. These articles have been compiled with a great amount of prayer for God’s blessing and comfort on YOUR lives.

We are thankful that we can make this available to you for personal quiet time, for giving away to widows you meet along your journey, or to your church to be used to minister to new widows.

Please consider purchasing your copy TODAY.

Click here to read more about our books.

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kit hinkle a widows might when god closes a door he opens a window

The Window

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage;  wait on the Lord

Psalm 27:14 ESV

As the saying goes, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”   But does He always?

My husband John’s death certainly was a closed door in my life.  I had been a wife for fourteen years, I was raising three kids and moving along quite comfortably.  Then the door slammed in my face.  I knew that I needed to spend time right where I was in order to heal.  And I was okay with that…for a time.

But then I started to get antsy.  I was ready to move forward.  I didn’t want to be associated with the word “widow” any more.  The grief room was beginning to feel stifling. I wanted God to open the window.  But He didn’t.

I thought I was “over it”.  I felt like I had worked through all my grief.  And I had made great progress, but no window to a new life was opening up.  I found myself frustrated with God. Couldn’t He see I was ready, I was good to go?  Why wasn’t He opening up the window?

For the longest time, I focused on my questions and my frustrations. I did all the talking and no listening.  Once I actually quieted my heart and allowed God to speak, I learned something.  I learned I wasn’t as healed and ready to move on as I thought.

There were still areas in my journey God needed me to work on.  I learned that there were hurts that hadn’t even surfaced yet. Things that needed to be dealt with before I could move to the next thing.  I was in such a hurry to move past the tragedy and be whole again that I was actually hurting my healing process.

If you are like me, it is hard to wait.  Maybe, like me, you just want to move past the hurt– you want to be healed and “happy” again.  But please learn from my mistake–  Don’t rush this process! Grief goes so much deeper than we realize.  Many times the grief over losing our spouses is just the tip of the iceberg.  There may be unresolved issues, hurts that were never expressed, questions that arise after the death.  Grief is complex, messy, and just can’t be rushed.

The good news is this….the “window” does eventually open.  As God revealed areas I needed to work on, I strengthened and grew in my faith.  I am so much better now than when I thought I was “over it” all.  As a result, “windows” are opening in areas that I never would have imagined. There are some God is keeping shut for now.  I can see them, occasionally I even get a glimpse of what’s on the other side. It’s still hard at times, but I am much better at the waiting now.  Waiting on God to do His thing in my life.  Waiting on His timing to tell me when I’m ready to move.

God will open the “window”, but only in His timing.  Until then, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let yourt heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14 ESV)

Father, I pray for all of us who are waiting for the “window” to open.  I ask that You open our hearts to what You may be trying to tell us as we wait.   I pray for strength to keep still as we wait for Your perfect timing.  Encourage us and remind us You have not forgotten us.  Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness to us in our grief and healing.  Amen!

boat

What’s On the High Shelf? Part 2: The Mystery

aNew Season (Rebuilding after Loss): Dreams and Goals

Last week I began with Pastor Greg Laurie’s story about asking his little son to choose any toy from a toy store only to be surprised when the boy selected the smallest figurine on a bottom shelf. Pastor Greg really had in mind the most whiz bang toy for his son. It was sitting on the highest shelf.  Feel free to turn back to that post here to get the full devotion.

Meanwhile, today we talk about what God has in mind for us on His high shelf, and what He meant in Jeremiah about His plans or thoughts for us.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

A dear friend hangs this verse on a plaque in her kitchen. It’s a verse so many of us pen on the insides of cards and letters to encourage one another.

But have you ever noticed how differently it reads in the New International Version? The NIV uses the word ‘prosper’, while the ESV uses ‘to give you a future and a hope’ and the KJV says ‘to give you an expected end’.

It’s important to recognize that translations of the Bible are based on original manuscript and reflect different purposes.  The ESV and KJV versions are closer to actual word-for-word translations, while the NIV is written to capture the Truth of what’s written accurately while reading more in our current language we use day-to-day.  The word “prosper” is used in the NIV because it captures the spirit of hope for a future that the earlier manuscripts use.  However, the word prosper doesn’t show up in the earlier manuscript.

Prosper is such a buzzword in our culture. We value the physical world so much we tend to interpret this verse solely on God’s plans for our health and wealth here in this world only.

I love to reflect with awe and wonder about the mystery of God’s will for what form that peace (KJV) or prosperity (NIV) will take in my life. If it’s peace, we accept God’s will for our lives. If it’s prosperity that’s promised, we can claim victory in God’s plans for us through prayer.

Will we be given the healing we ask for if we believe strongly enough? Or do we pray for healing, and then simply trust God’s will in allowing seasons of suffering that serve His ultimate purposes?

If His plans are for me to prosper, why am I alone?  Why did He allow my husband to die? I’d rather have a husband. Is it His will to allow me to continue suffering? Shouldn’t prayers and obedient living heal all?

I knew the Scriptures themselves would answer this question, but only if I read the verse in context and not let it sit it all by itself on a plaque, open to be misconstrued.

So let’s open to Jeremiah and read. As we do so, we should remember, the very people Jeremiah wrote to were going through pain. Israelites were being held in captivity in Babylon because of years of turning from God. While all of the captives were Israelites, not all of them were included in the majority who had turned from God.  Some of them, including Daniel, were more than obedient and prayerful. Some scholars point out indications in the Book of Daniel that Daniel came from one of the few devout families that refused to worship other idols.

Of Daniel and his three companions, John F. Walvoord, long-time president of Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote in a commentary on bible.org  that “…all of their Hebrew names indicate their relationship to the God of Israel, and in the customs of the time, connote devout parents. This perhaps explains why these, in contrast to the other young men, are found true to God: they had godly homes in their earlier years.”

I think about how Daniel must have felt. Was he not loyal to God?  Why the suffering? Under Who’s will did Daniel remain a captive for so long?

Of course God didn’t author the evil of captivity, no more than He authors the evil which causes sickness or takes away spouses. But through the captivity, God allowed Daniel to carry out His purposes in so many ways.  The stories of the lions’ den and the fiery furnace are stories that rivet peoples attention, both when it happened and throughout the world since. His interpretation of dreams gave us valuable prophesies from the Lord.

Purpose accomplished.  And all through the suffering of captivity.

What’s your purpose?  Is it possible there’s something on the higher shelf the Lord has in store for you?

(This is the second of three parts on this message. The first has been published here last week. Stay tuned next Sunday for the next part. We’ll talk about letting go of our own plans in favor of trusting God’s plans. My prayer is that all of us step into His purpose for our living.)

Would you like to read more about dreams and goals?  Here are some articles you might try:

Following God’s Path by Sheryl Pepple

The Old Tin Ladle by Jill Byard

kit hinkle a new season a widows might

A Widow’s Walk is Never Carved in Stone

Written early in my widow journey

by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

2 Peter 1:4 (ESV)

Sometimes thriving in life as a widow means listening to how God wants you to participate in His divine nature.  It’s different for each of us because a widow’s walk is never carved in stone.  The Lord asks some of us to weather it quietly—grieving and accepting the loss as your heart allows you to—one step at a time. The Lord sometimes asks us to move forward boldly, letting go of fear so that through our boldness, we protect the younger ones He has put in our care from the corruption in the world.

When the Lord leads you to step forward boldly, you might have fear over what the world thinks of you as you as you move forward and lead your own life into the future without leaning on an earthly husband.  I think of the widow, Ruth, and her obedience to the Lord and how it led to bold steps on her part, choosing to remain with her mother-in-law, choosing to gather grain behind the harvesters in Boaz’s fields, and presenting herself to Boaz in a humble but brazen gesture to petition him to claim her as his wife.

Ruth was brave, and yet so loved by the Lord for her obedience that He blessed her by allowing the bloodline of His only Son to run through her.

Imagine how fear could grip a woman in her situation faced with deciding whom to align herself with, how to provide for herself, and whether to pursue a new marriage.  As a widow, you might feel it too.  Widowhood can be a life full of fear if you allow yourself to get overwhelmed.

I’m reminded today to stop fear in its tracks for it is not from the Lord. I consider what my pastor told me after he took three of my sons on a Gettysburg Father-son retreat. He reassured me that decisions I’ve made since Tom has died have been good ones, evidenced by a Christ awareness my kids displayed on that trip with him.  He told me my children seem to have no trouble going against the grain of the world.  In other words, under my leadership which came straight from the guidance of the Lord, for the time being, they have escaped “the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”.

The Lord sometimes speaks through the words of blessings from others, and my pastor’s words were well-timed at a moment when I felt overwhelmed. I marvel at their progress, because many times my decisions go against the grain of this world, to the point of coming under scrutiny of others who aren’t sure what to think when a widow steps out in boldness. Some don’t understand that my choices are not my own. I’ve allowed the Lord to lead.

Sometimes people of the world want to tell you how as a widow you’ve been beaten. You’ve suffered loss. You’re supposed to recoil, curl up in a ball and feel sorry for yourself.

There is that place where you need to be alone and recover.  And sometimes that can take a while, but there was a point after Tom died where the Lord told me, grieve but don’t recoil. Break free. Burst forth in radiance because my four boys will watch and follow. They will be marked forever in their souls by the choices I make as a widow.

They will either see themselves as victims or see themselves as stepping forward by following and staying safely inside the Eye of the storm—accepting that what Satan doles out with the intention of evil, God takes and turns around for His Glory.

If you feel a prompting in your heart to follow a purpose the Lord has laid out for you, I encourage you to pray about it.  Don’t let fear stop you. Let the peace that only comes from the Holy Spirit prevail over you.  He will lead you.  It’s His great and precious promise.