Encouragement in the Darkness

The sadness from this two weeks’ events in Afghanistan have been almost overwhelming. My joy has been drained like the wringing of a wet dishrag. I’m especially heartbroken about the women and young girls who face dangerous conditions under Taliban rule. Despite this week’s political failures and national embarrassment, I’ve been encouraged.

I heard someone say last Thursday that the church in Afghanistan is the second fastest-growing church on our planet. I also heard that believers there are strong in their faith and will not buckle to surrender to Islam. They have found true freedom in Christ. The fastest growing church also is facing great persecution.

In 1979 all missionaries were kicked out of Iran; Bibles were banned, and believers suffered greatly. Some were martyred. Today, Iran is the fastest growing church in the world. It is estimated that the church in that nation numbers more than a million believers. (About 83 million people live in the nation.) God is faithfully fulfilling His promise in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

We in America have become lazy Christians. Possibly because we have faced little persecution until recently. When my grandmother was a young adult, she learned about a struggling Pentecostal church and decided to attend since she was hungry for more of God. The building was not much more than a shack in a deteriorating neighborhood, and people threw rotten eggs and rotten tomatoes at the building. Believers were faithful and that struggling small group grew larger and even planted churches in neighboring towns. Today that church is in a lovely building, and the people are well-respected members of the community.

I’ve also been encouraged by words written more than 100 years ago by Ada Ruth Habershon. These old words have become a modern, well-loved hymn: click here

He Will Hold Me Fast

When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;

When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.

I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;

For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.


He will hold me fast; He will hold me fast;

For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.

Those He saves are His delight, Christ will hold me fast;

Precious in his holy sight, He will hold me fast.

He’ll not let my soul be lost; His promises shall last;

Bought by Him at such a cost, He will hold me fast.

For my life He bled and died, Christ will hold me fast;

Justice has been satisfied; He will hold me fast.

Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast

‘Till our faith is turned to sight, He will hold me fast.

The Lord wants to comfort you as He has me. He may bring a different hymn or Scripture to your memory. Or, He may prompt a friend to call you, or you may listen to a sermon on the Internet that you sense was especially meant for you. God has many methods to help His children. May you sense His comforting presence today. 

Who Do We Trust?

We have a new guest who visits just beyond my privacy fence: a doe is bringing her new fawn to feed outside my neighbor’s fence since they put out corn and a salt block. Evidently the fawn was lost or in distress last evening since I heard bawling. (I looked up deer sounds on the Internet to learn what the sound was.) The sound was unmistakably a distress signal. In my mind, I could envision the mother deer rushing to her “child’s” rescue when I heard the bawling stop.

When we are in distress, like that baby deer whose legs are not strong yet and who doesn’t know the way to the designated resting place, we call a friend or an adult child to ask for his or her input. We look on the Internet for information and instruction. I’m the type of person who buys a book on the subject to learn the ins and outs of a dilemma. Sometimes we are helped and other times, we are seemingly more confused. Finally, we cry out to God—where we ( I ) should have gone first—for help, guidance, and solace.

The wisest person who has lived, Solomon, said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

In these days, we have many people giving us a lot of different information on what to do, how to do it, and when it should be done. How do we know who to believe or who to trust? As widows, this can be very confusing. We read an article with what we think is good information, but the next article tells us that what we learned previously is misinformation. A widow friend told me how very much she misses her husband’s wisdom, since he seemed to be able to sort out misinformation.

Those of us who had wise husbands were truly blessed, but the only One who is fully trustworthy is God. Each of us is human, imperfect, sinful, and make mistakes in what we say and do. The psalmist David said, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Psalm 118:8).

I can only imagine what it was like for Jesus’ disciples when He began telling them He would not be with them any longer. Jesus had provided for them, taught them, and was their companion for 3 and a half years. They had left everything to be with Him and serve Him. How could they live without Him? The apostle John even tells us that the disciples were “filled with sorrow” because Jesus told them of His departure (John 16:6). John also gives us some of the instructions Jesus gave these men in distress. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be with them to “guide [them] into all the truth” (John 16:13).

We have access to the same Holy Spirit that the disciples experienced. More than once I’ve sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to do something or not to do something. When I’ve obeyed, the Lord has worked things out in remarkable ways. When I’ve not obeyed, I’ve suffered the consequences or have been disappointed that I did not obey.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, (John 10:27). May each of us be sensitive to hear what Jesus, our Good Shepherd (John 10:11), is saying to us when we ask for help.

When God Is Silent????

Everything around us is changing.

Spring is such a beautiful time of the year. My redbud trees were in their glory for several weeks, the hyacinths’ fragrance and beauty brought joy even on cloudy days. The tulips bloomed just in time to add extra beauty to Easter. Despite these special blessings, I’m feeling a heaviness from the sadness, confusion, and darkness in our world. A friend mentioned the other day that 8 or 9 families connected with our church have experienced loss in the past few weeks, and within the past several weeks, I’ve attended five funerals or visitations. Only one was COVID related.

We have repented and prayed for God to intervene in our nation’s problems, but things are seemingly getting worse. We have interceded for some of our friends who have been ill, but they are now with the Lord. Many are saying, Why hasn’t God answered our prayers? I’m sure we could make some guesses, but we don’t know why. We have very few answers. Possibly you prayed for months, even years, for God to heal your husband, but it didn’t happen. And you’ve had other requests, but the heavens seem brass. What do you do when God is silent?

I know a person who feels that God is too busy to answer her requests. Another person told me that God’s silence proves He doesn’t exist. In Psalm 13, the Psalmist David said that God had forgotten him and hidden His face from him. Some would call this a spiritual drought, or the dark night of the soul, or spiritual desolation.

David was sure at this time in his life that his enemies were going to win. But in verses 5 and 6, David reaffirms his faith: “But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.” David knew that God had always been with him in the past and that God would continue to be with him. So, he was determined to continue to trust. So, our first defense when life is difficult is to continue to trust God’s love and faithfulness.

It is reported that Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Of course, as a famous baseball coach, he was referring to baseball. But it’s true in life, so giving up should not be an option. We must pray until we see an answer. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7), Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who ask receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” The tense of the Greek words for ask, seek and knock refers to a continual action— keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.

Luke 1:18 says, “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  A widow constantly went to a judge “who didn’t fear God or care about people,” (v. 2) but because she continued to ask for justice, he finally granted it. Then Jesus said, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” Be assured God has not left you alone in your struggles.

1 Peter 3:12 says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers.” (See also 1 John 5:14, 15) According to John in Revelation 5:8, God keeps our prayers as incense in golden bowls. God is hearing your cries. When we feel God is silent, we should keep on asking Him for our deepest needs and trust in His constant care.

The Answer to Discouragement

Not everyone becomes depressed, but everyone on our planet becomes discouraged or sad at one time or another. It’s simply a human malady. Your hours at work are cut; the stew burns, bills are more numerous than usual; your children are going through a hard time; a valued relationship seems broken. Maybe you’re discouraged about the direction our nation is heading, and you see no resolution. Maybe you are stuck in your grieving process, which is making you downhearted. We could go on and on to describe times when sadness and discouragement feels like a heavy blanket over us. Life is simply complicated.

The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk began writing with these words, “How long, O Lord must I call for help, but you do not listen?” These words reveal the prophet’s discouragement, and he had many reasons to be upset. Although the date of the prophet’s writing is uncertain, it may have been when Nebuchadnezzar took the first group of captives to Babylon. Judah was reeling under God’s judgment, evil in Judah seemed to have the upper hand, and the Babylonians were closing in.

So Habakkuk pours out his heart to God as he expresses his heartaches, offers his questions, and waits for God’s answers (1:13). Why God are You tolerating the evil? Why are you silent, God, while the wicked prosper? Why are our prayers unanswered?  Why are you silent when disaster surrounds us?

God gives Habakkuk several answers: [T]he righteous will live by his faith (2:4); things will eventually be made right (2:14); and God is still on His throne (2:20). God also tells him that judgment is coming because of greed and aggression (2:6-8), injustice (2:9-11), violence and crime (2:12-14), immorality (2:15-17), and idolatry (2:18-20).* While this may seem like a very dark picture, Habakkuk’s next prayer is full of worship and faith.

He asks God to send revival and remember mercy (3:2). It’s difficult to pray in faith when everything around you is falling apart. In these times of great challenge, God is drawing us closer to Him. He wants us to get our eyes off of our discouraging circumstances and focus on His sustaining faith and His power to deliver. Habakkuk says, “I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us (3:16). Babylon was eventually destroyed in 539 B.C. when King Cyrus of Persia came to power. It was Cyrus who made it possible for the Jews to return to Israel after their captivity.

Habakkuk’s book begins with questions and discouragement but ends with praise and affirmation of who God is (3:17-19, NIV).

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

As we wait for God’s answers, I hope our prayers in these discouraging days will be full of faith in God’s care and provision for us. May the Lord also give us joy, as He did with Habakkuk, as we grapple with life’s disappointments.

*Notes from Life in the Spirit Study Bible, p. 1367.

Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand

All the Christmas decorations are in their boxes and stored, waiting December 2021. But this past year was so challenging, demoralizing, emotional, and devastating that it’s hard to think and plan for another year or even think about the possibility of Christmas 2021. As we remember all of the earthshaking events of 2020, it’s hard to believe we made it through such a cataclysmic year. A friend texted this to me a couple of days ago: “The only thing I believe anymore is God’s Word.”

With the pandemic and political unrest, there seems to be a dark cloud over everything right now. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s seemingly nothing to be excited about for the new year. While listening to music over the weekend, I heard an old gospel song: “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand,” which was written by Jennie Wilson as a poem and sent to Franklin L. Eiland to add the music. Miss Wilson was an invalid, but her poems reflect joy and a dependence on God. The song is an admonition and challenge to us in these uncertain times.

Time is filled with swift transition, Naught of earth unmoved can stand;

Build your hopes on things eternal; Hold to God’s unchanging hand!

CHORUS:  Hold to God’s unchanging hand! Hold to God’s unchanging hand!

Build your hope on things eternal; Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

Trust in Him who will not leave you whatsoever years may bring;

If by earthly friends forsaken, Still more closely to Him cling!

Covet not this world’s vain riches that so rapidly decay;

Seek to gain the heavenly treasures; They will never pass away!

When your journey is completed, If to God you have been true,

Fair and bright the home in glory, Your enraptured soul will view!

This song and others on trusting the Lord bring back memories of sitting next to my grandmother in church as we sang from our “song book,” as we called it. Look at all the great theology and biblical truths that I learned as a child:

  1. Nothing in this earth is permanent. (Matthew 24:35)
  2. God never changes. (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17)
  3. Eternal things are the most important. (Matthew 6:33; Matthew 7:24-27)
  4. Riches are fleeting. (Matthew 6:19-21)
  5. This life will end. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
  6. Obedience to God is necessary to gain a home in heaven. (2 Timothy 4:6-8; John 3:16)

We live in very troubled times, but the year (1906) when “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand” was published was equally problematic. It started out badly with a January 8 landslide in Haverstraw, NY, that killed 21 people. Then on April 18, 1906, a 7.9 earthquake nearly leveled the San Francisco area. More than 3,000 people died directly or indirectly (from the fires) and as many as 300,000 people were left homeless since more than half of the buildings in the area were destroyed by the earthquake or fires. In today’s money, the damage would equal $120 billion.

While a listing of 1906 events includes a prominent murder and racial tensions, it also notes that on April 14 (4 days before the earthquake) William J. Seymour held the first service in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angles, which would become known as the Azusa Street Revival. The 3-year revival spread throughout the world and was the beginning of the Pentecostal movement. People’s lives were changed; race and gender walls crumbled, and miracles occurred. Referring to the death of Christ, Seymour said, “The color line was washed away in the blood.”

We live in a broken world, but as we “hold to God’s unhanging hand,” live according to His Word, and pray fervently, I believe we will see another great move of God that will break barriers and change lives.

A Grateful Spirit at Christmas

Presently, Christmas music is bringing a festive air to my home. I’m listening to one of my favorite Christmas albums: Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas.” For many of us widows, it even seems that it would be dishonoring to our spouses to be joyful at this season of the year. But despite COVID, unrest in our nation, disappointments, and isolation, we have lots to celebrate this Christmas. Your loss may be recent, and the grief especially deep because Christmas will never again be spent with that someone special. There’s absolutely no “spirit of Christmas” in your home. You may even feel guilty for enjoying a Christmas activity. Your song this Christmas is “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you.”

Many of the things that professional counselors advise for widows to do to help survive the holidays are not possible this year because of COVID and the recommendations to celebrate in isolation. But COVID can’t hamper a grateful spirit.

Dr. Daniel Amen, a noted American psychiatrist, says, “When you place a priority on the things you’re grateful for in life, your brain actually works better. People who practice gratitude are healthier, more optimistic, make progress towards their goals, have a greater sense of well-being, and are helpful to others.” He recommends keeping a grateful journal. Our journal lists may be different, but I hope your list includes gratefulness for the privilege of knowing the true meaning of Christmas­—that Jesus Christ was born into this world to be our Savior.

There was little for which to be grateful during the time Jesus was born. Many people lived in poverty. Luke’s Gospel tells us that at Jesus’ birth, the Jewish people lived under harsh Roman rule. Joseph was required to go to Bethlehem, the town of his heritage, to register (Luke 2:1). He had no choice, and Mary also was required to go with him even though she was nine months pregnant. But Micah, an Old Testament prophet, had foretold about 700 years earlier that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). So, God was orchestrating everything that was happening. God was in charge, not the Roman rulers.

Do you believe that God is in charge of everything that’s going on in your life, despite your great loss? I’m not saying that God caused your husband’s death, but I am saying that He takes what is bad and works it into something that’s good (Genesis 50:20). It’s not easy to trust our lives to God’s all-knowing power—His omniscience—when we have been shattered by death. I remember sitting in front of a rehab building at a hospital in early January 1991 after Tony’s leg was amputated. Everything we had hoped to do in life was ending. In that dark hour, God gave me a promise that I thought was impossible. In the midst of my sorrow, God was giving me hope for the future. Ten years later, that promise began to unfold.

During this Christmas season, allow God to whisper words of hope to you through His Word or through a word He speaks to your spirit. He is Immanuel—God with us (Matthew 1:22-23) and He is able to bring something good out of your shattered life.

A Possible Angelic Encounter

God’s Word has more than 70 Scripture passages that talk about His care for widows. Some of these are His direct commands of how to care for widows. Others are stories that demonstrate His great concern and understanding. As a child, I loved hearing how God miraculously provided financially for a widow so that her sons did not need to work as slaves (2 Kings 4). Now as a widow, I’m encouraged by God’s great provision for two widows, one young and one older, in the Old Testament Book of Ruth. Jesus also showed His compassion for widows by raising a widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17).

I have known these Scriptures since I was a older child and have experienced God’s provision and watchful care hundreds of times during my adult life. But I had an encounter three Sundays ago that vividly illustrates God’s ever-present concern for widows.

I was driving to church about 9:45 a.m. and was several blocks from my home when I thought I had forgotten to bring a mask, which my church requires. I took the next right at a side street beside a supermarket and stopped to check an extra tote in the back seat. Yes, I had a mask, so I pulled out of the parking space and proceeded down the side road. Within seconds, a loud thumping noise brought me to a stop once again. As I got out of the car, I noticed a young man on a small, old, girl’s bike to my left. He had one foot on the curb and one foot on the road and looked as if he was just waiting for someone.

Thinking I now had a flat tire, I got out of my car and looked at all the tires. They were still inflated. I even checked a second time. The young man said, “Would you like me to see if I can tell what’s wrong?” I was sure he couldn’t help but said, “Yes.” He immediately came to the passenger’s side. Pointing to the back tire, he said, “Here’s your problem.” Sure enough, about one inch of what I later learned was a spark plug was sticking out of my back tire, but not where it could be easily seen. “I can change the tire for you in about two minutes, if you would like,” he said. I agreed and thanked him.

He proceeded with amazing knowledge for his age, and we began a conversation. Nick (the name he gave me when I asked) was polite and articulate. He wore faded, well-worn clean clothes and was clean-shaven with closely cropped light brown hair. Even his hands and fingernails were clean, and his bright smile revealed nicely kept teeth. I sensed from our conversation that he was homeless, but he didn’t fit the profile of the young men I usually saw riding around the city on old bikes. Timidly I asked, “Are you homeless.”

“I am right now,” he said. “I stayed in a tent last night.” He talked about his jobs and said his mother lived nearby. I shared too and also told him of God’s goodness in my life and that God could provide and give him a wonderful future.

I was amazed how quickly he put on the spare tire and was even more surprised as I watched him put every tool in its rightful place in the container—just as if he has done it hundreds of times. When I gave him the money I had in my wallet, he said, “I don’t usually take money for helping.” I prayed with him, asking God to bless, guide, and provide. With everything back in the trunk, he got on the bike, and I got in the car. Both of us headed toward the intersection.

The main road was about 500 feet away. Several cars were passing, so I had to wait to enter the highway. He should have pulled up beside me, but I never saw him again. By the time I arrived at church, I was convinced God had sent an angel to help me. There was simply no other explanation.

I am often near that intersection and will never pass it again without remembering God’s great provision. God’s Word teaches us that He does not show partiality (Deuteronomy 2:17, Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11). What He did for me, He will do for you. He is “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Prayer For Our Nation

More than 50,000 believers from across our nation gathered this past Saturday, September 26, in Washington, D.C. for two significant prayer events: The Return and The Prayer Walk. One media outlet reported that an additional 1+ million people participated in the events through the Internet coverage. The day was marked by prayers of repentance and a call to return to God for spiritual and moral healing in the nation. While hundreds of Scriptures were read or quoted, the underlining biblical emphasis was from Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple:

            If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seekmy face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Solomon realized that judgment wound come to Israel if they turned their backs on God. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he told the people there would be a threefold requirement for healing. God would then provide a threefold remedy. Believing that our nation is suffering because we have greatly sinned, we are following Solomon’s admonition and expecting God to hear, forgive, and heal.

September 26’s concentrated prayer fell during the 10 Days of Awe (the Jewish days of repentance and reflection), which began with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), and was just before Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, in the Jewish lunar calendar. This holiest day has been commemorated throughout the centuries with fasting, asking forgiveness, and even making right those wrongs that were committed. I believe God ordained the call to prayer for our nation to be during these holy days of the Jewish calendar.

God has answered prayer many times for the United States. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress called for prayer and fasting on July 20, 1775. Our war for independence from England had many ups and downs, but, although the fighting continued for two years, the British surrendered in 1781. As the War of 1812 raged, James Madison called for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Aug. 3, 1812. When the British burned the Capitol and the White House in 1814, it seemed that Britain would win, but God gave decisive victories and a treaty was signed that December. These days of war occurred during The Second Great Awakening (1800 – 1840), so God was working despite the turmoil in the land.

Lincoln’s call for a day of prayer and fasting on March 30, 1863, was the turning point of the Civil War. During WWI when it looked as if the Allied Forces were losing, Woodrow Wilson called for a day of prayer. The next day the U.S. Marines won a significant battle that turned the tide. After King George VI called for a day of repentance, God answered prayer and Hitler’s forces began losing.People prayed and repented on the Washington Mall in April 1980, shortly before Reagan’s election. During the next eight years, The Cold War ended, and patriotism and faith were encouraged. In praying this weekend, we also prayed that once again we would see a return to God and that revival would sweep across our land.

These have been dark days with COVID-19, rioting in the streets, open sin against God’s commands, gross corruption, foul language, and lies. It’s almost as if we wonder if God has forgotten us. Is God hearing our earnest cries? Daniel said that in the last days that the enemy, Satan, would “wear down the saints of the Highest One” (NASB) or “shall persecute the saints of the Most High,” (Daniel 7:25, NKJV). One woman recently told me, “I believe Satan has released all his evil minions on earth.” Though circumstances look grim and Satan is trying to wear us down, to discourage us, and push us to give up, we are not defeated. But we desperately need another Great Awakening.

In Lynn Austin’s book While We Are Far Apart, Jacob Mendle, the elderly Jewish landlord says, “It must have been that Hashem (God) must not be listening.” Later he says, “Sometimes it’s wrong to judge the effectiveness of prayer by looking at the immediate results.”

So, we continue to look beyond the present circumstances and believe that God is answering prayer for our nation, just as He has in the past. We continue to humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways and trust God’s plan for redemption and restoration.

A Slice of America

Nearly 80 years ago, the block in which I live was part of more than a 400-acre tract of land with two large silos that held wheat and corn, dozens of black walnut trees, at least two caves, and a creek where the farmer’s children played. The family raised chickens, cows, and pigs, and a variety of vegetables. Over the years the land was sold to several developers, and little by little the corn and wheat fields were replaced with hundreds of houses. The black walnut tree in my back yard remains as a testament to this once productive farm. Today the land that was owned by one family is home to a diverse group of landowners.

Within this one short block, we have transplants from California, New Mexico, Florida, and New England. A family from Asia lives on the west end while the east end houses a family from West Africa. Both families came to the States seeking to be a part of the American dream. We also have a family of new American citizens from Central Europe and a second-generation European family that also has family ties to the Caribbean islands. A Russian family occupied the house next to me for a short time. Our block is a snapshot of America today.

Twenty years ago, Joan, whose parents owned this land, bought a small plot here to build a house. She was a recent widow, and her home was the first built on our block. While walking through the wooded area adjacent to her lot, she found the concrete steps of her childhood home, the old farmhouse. Today those steps in the corner of her lot provide the backdrop for lovely flowers and a remembrance of when she wandered through this acreage as a small child.

My neighborhood is very different from the one in which I grew up, but it’s very similar to what we can expect heaven to look like. When the apostle John got a glimpse heaven, he said, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb (Jesus)” (Revelation 7:9).  They were loudly praising Christ who had shed His blood so they could be with Him in heaven forever. We will be together in heaven shouting the same praises to God, but we will not lose our distinctiveness.

My features look similar to the family from Central Europe, but they are very different from the African household or the people from Asia. But Luke, the writer of Acts and a doctor said, From one man (Adam) He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live” (Acts 17:26). This means that if the Asian woman or the African man has a medical emergency and if she/he has 0-Positive blood as I do, I could give my blood to help save her/his life. So, we are similar in many ways, yet we are different. I also believe that God has sovereignly brought all of us together on this one small block of land.

Now you may be wondering how this applies to us as widows. All widows do not look alike. We come in all colors, shapes, ages, and sizes, and we may not grieve alike. Because of the differences in our cultures, some may show their emotions more readily than others. Some widows grieve quietly behind closed doors, while others weep openly.

Kristin Meekhof, who wrote A Widow’s Guide to Healing, says, “There is no ordinary grief. Each situation … is unique.” She, however, goes on to say that each widow experiences loss, fear, and hopelessness. And, each widow has scars. So, we are different, but we are similar.

May each of us who has been on this journey for several years, embrace the grieving widow and be an advocate for healing, regardless of our race, culture or ethnicity.

Promises, Promises

As this 2020 political campaign heats up, I thought you would enjoy this look into history.

In 1936, Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and his vice president, John Garner, were vying for their second term in office. Alf Landon and his running mate, Frank Knox, were theScreen Shot 2020-08-15 at 9.36.11 PM Republican candidates. The Great Depression that had begun in 1929 was beginning to ease and the nation was recovering in small ways, but most Americans were struggling, and 14% of the population was still unemployed. People needed encouragement and hope for a better future, but they also wanted relief from government overreach.

In a rousing speech in Pittsburgh toward the end of the campaign, Roosevelt promised to balance the budget, which he also had promised four years before, and cut federal spending by 25%. The people liked what they heard, and Roosevelt won the election with the largest electoral vote in history. Over the next four years, he failed to even try to keep his promise.

In 1940, Roosevelt was again campaigning in western Pennsylvania. This would be his third term in office. His speechwriter was concerned that people would remember the president’s broken promise and asked the president what should be said. Roosevelt responded, “Deny we were ever in Pittsburgh.” His choice is recorded for all of us to see a character flaw.

I suspect everyone has broken more than a few promises—some intentionally, others by neglect, and others because of life’s changing circumstances. I’ve said many times, “I’ll call you later.” But I failed to call. I simply did not remember my promise. How many times have we—and this includes me—told a friend that we would be praying, but the moment passed, and we simply forgot? Some broken promises are inconsequential, but others lead to disappointments, relational challenges, distrust, and even people questioning our integrity and credibility. We can make excuses for our blunders, but, as usual, the best way to handle our mistake is to confess and ask forgiveness.

Breaking a promise not only hurts others, it’s also painful for the promise breaker and can have long-term consequences. We lose confidence and self-esteem in ourselves, and our reputation is marred. So Solomon gives us a clear directive in Ecclesiastes 5:2: “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God,” (NASB). Jesus said, “Let what you say be a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’’ (Matthew 5:37, ESV).

Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 9.30.09 PMOnly ONE has never broken a promise—our precious heavenly Father. He always keeps His promises. As we deal with news of the increase of COVID-19, riots in our streets, a growing crime problem, and economic difficulties, we may have a tendency to worry about the future and become overwhelmed with fear. Instead of being anxious and afraid, we can rest on God’s promise to

  • Provide for our needs (Matthew 6:31-33, Philippians 4:19)
  • Be with us every day (Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5, Isaiah 43:2)
  • Equip us with strength (Psalm 46:1-3, Isaiah 40:29, 31)
  • Give us wisdom (Proverbs 2:6, James 1:5)
  • Give us peace in the midst of problems (Isaiah 26:3, Matthew 11:28-30, John 14:27)

These are just a few of God’s promises to us. In these days when we are uncertain about whose word to trust, we can have complete assurance in God’s unchanging Word.