12th October 2011
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 1:27 (NIV)
I recently had a phone call from a widow. I managed to keep my cool but I was outraged. No, not by her. Rather, by what she told me—which was that she felt lonely in a certain place among two to three hundred others who are ‘Christians’. She is aware of being alone now that her husband has died, but not usually lonely. In that specific place she feels very lonely because of the attitude of others, the not being included, the rare invitations to a meal etc. I wondered, “How could this be?”
The tragedy is, she is not the only one. There are lots of widows, widowers and single people who are not only alone but lonely too. Often, the greatest awareness of loneliness is when one is within a large crowd of people. Sadly, Christians too can forget to include the widows and those who are on their own. Yes, I believe that singles could sometimes organise themselves and help each other out, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can forget about them.
Particularly the newly-widowed and the single who are new to the group can find it daunting just entering the room, let alone talking to complete strangers, even when they are brothers and sisters in Christ. Surely the obligation is on the group to include the alone and so not allowing them to become lonely.
In Acts 9:36-41, we read of Tabitha. But note part of verse 39 where it says, “And all the widows stood beside him, weeping”. That would only come about if Tabitha had made them feel loved and welcome.
I may not have been a widow but I have known being lonely in similar situations including the one my friend mentioned.
So how can we identify the widowed and the alone when in a large group of people? We won’t need to if we reach out to all those who we see standing on their own. Smiling and saying ‘hello’ to them is all that is generally needed to begin a conversation and make a person’s day. If it turns out they are simply awaiting their friend(s) that’s okay, you may still have made their day. If, though, it turns out they are alone then opportunities arise for you to include them and to introduce them to others, which has the knock on effect of having more people looking out for them. Such a simple reaching out can even lead to a life-long friendship as I can testify.
And what can we do to help the widowed, etc. when back at home and, maybe, far from the one we befriended? Keep in touch by whatever means suits you ~ email, old fashioned letters or phone. Maybe you are close enough that visiting is possible once in a while. All that’s needed is a note saying that you are praying for them. It will give the person a boost, reminding them that they are not forgotten, that you were thinking of them.
They will appreciate it. On their behalf ~ thank you.
Father, please help each of us who read this to reach out and touch the widows and the alone, soothing their loneliness especially while they adjust to their being alone. Thank you that You are always with them, even when we can’t be. It is in Jesus’ name that we pray.