By Mark Williams
I am not sure how people do this widow/widower thing without God. I was widowed in March, 2018, 27 days short of our 38th anniversary. And, looking back from where I am today to where I was in that dumpster fire of a time, I really cannot see how people do that – that storm – without any faith in a loving God who had complete control and care and love over all of it.
My wife, my kids, and I – we are all “Christians.” That’s a label I don’t particularly like, except on medical release forms. I’m just a guy. I raised a family, then they married, and now I have ten grandkids. I had a job, I retired, and here I am.
So, to label me as a “Christian,” well, this is an article dealing with religion, so you might want to know a little bit about me in that regard. I think my actions speak for themselves, and if you were to ask me, I would tell you my religious affiliation. But I’m not going to be the guy on your front porch pounding on your door yelling “What are you doing for Baby Jesus today!?” I want my actions to cause you to ask, “There is something different about you. Why?”
I also figure if you’re reading this, you are, or might be soon, in one of those two undesirable categories: a widow or a widower. And maybe you’re wondering, “What am I going to do when my spouse is gone?”
Let me see if I can share my experiences and if any of it helps.
The Trauma of Loss
Some of us, well, we’re lucky. Our partner took time dying and gave us some transition time. Unlike those whose spouses pass away quickly with an unexpected death (which is a whole other learning curve), we might have spent nights at home alone, while they were in the hospital, allowing us that “oh, so this is how it feels” moments of riding the ship alone—especially at night.
We learned about bills and how to shut off the water main. We were able to actually ask our partner questions about what stuff needed to be done, just to get by, just to do life. We’ve had to learn about health insurance, death certificates, filing with Social Security, where the car keys to the other car are, and vacuum bags—when was the last time those were changed?
Stuff a team divided up sometimes in a partnership that now are delegated to just one. Oh, and now you have to go to the hospital, nursing home, hospice, and swim in that soup of life—that edge of the pool you hold on to where the water seems too deep.
Like I said, I don’t know how people do this without God.
Trusting God’s Plan
Dad can be a funny guy (I call God, the Father of my Lord Jesus and God of the Universe, “Dad”). He can be funny like in “a horse walks in to a bar” kinda way; but He can also be funny as in a quirky, unexpected, off-guard kinda way.
He will do things you don’t understand, not until later. I have lived long enough to know and to have seen Him do this, so I feel safe and usually smile when I see it. But it still amazes me.
When He shows up—usually so simply and so perfectly timed, even in the middle of a raging dumpster fire—it is as if the climax to the play I am watching has revealed something wonderful. And part of the wonderfulness of it is, depending on how you look at it, all about me. Or, from the other angle, it’s all about Him.
Let me explain.
I love the story of the two criminals crucified with Jesus. It’s in Luke 23: 39-43. You remember it. Jesus is crucified between two criminals, and one of them challenges Jesus to get down if he is truly the son of God. The other rebukes him, and simply asks Jesus to remember him when he is in Heaven.
That was all the guy needed: faith—probably not even “strong” faith. He dared to believe that the guy next to him was who he was claiming and simply asked him to remember him. For him, it was all about Jesus and what he was doing. For Jesus, the Son of the God of the whole Universe, it was all about the thief. Jesus was on the cross for that guy.
And me. And you.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say our faith will make the world dance with the smell of flowers and rainbows. In many cases, the world gets significantly harder. But if we have a faith—a simple faith, is what we are told—the God of the Universe, actually wants to adopt us—you and me—and live in us.
We are cleaned of the infection of sin by the giving of the life of his son. And that God has a Plan, a perfect plan, so why would we not want to rely on that? My plan is made of glue sticks and post-it-notes. Tape holds my plans together. God’s Plan, well, why would I not trust that over mine – or even yours? I don’t know you, but I would guess your plan is worse than my plan because, well, it’s your plan.
I hear Him. Well, I don’t really hear him. But it is the Holy Spirit in me. I hear simply the start of the phrase. It’s soft and soothing and was written on a little chalkboard hanging from an IV pole in my wife’s hospital room and now my house, to remind me and others who was and is in charge: “Be still and know….” It’s from Psalm 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God.”
In the middle of the trauma and anxiety and fear and anger and frustration that was yesterday and maybe today and definitely sometime between now and the time I come home, there will be more of it. I rely on Dad having a Plan. And that plan, no matter what it is, is perfect. I hear Him say “Do you trust me?”
“Frankly, no God, I don’t.”
He doesn’t get mad at my answer. He isn’t ashamed at my answer. He knew I was going to answer that way before time began because He is, well, God. The fact I can trust him with my doubt is a sign of faith. Me stepping out on His Plan when I am so unsure is an act for which He silences the angels because He is so proud of me and loves me so. “See!” He says to the Heavenly Hosts. “Look at my adopted! He is acting on sheer faith. They are trusting Me without ever seeing Me. Gosh I love this child so!”
And when I stumble and fall, He is never mad. He helps me up, brushes me off, and whispers in my ear, “Try it again.”
So, my brothers and sisters, where you are at right now is hard. It might get harder. It might. But the Dad of the Universe is as close to you as in you. You are not alone. And when you step into the fire, the Dad of All is stepping in with you whispering in your ear:
“Be still and know.”