One of my least favorite things in the world is having to return something I’ve purchased….and later changed my mind. It’s especially annoying to me if it’s something I ordered online because then it needs to be repackaged and shipped off somewhere! Unless it’s a significant purchase, it just doesn’t seem worth all the effort it takes.
Sitting out on my deck earlier, I suddenly realized that another return is happening before my very eyes. Spring is returning to the Heartland and will soon be followed by full-fledged Summer. Behind my back fence is ten acres of undeveloped, wooded property – in the middle of the city! The trees are all budding out with little clumps of green leaves beginning to appear. The wild grasses are growing, dare I say wildly! The perennials along the fence are popping up and the early Spring flowers are blooming. The flowering trees all over the city have been blooming in waves of pink and white for two weeks now. The crabapple in my front yard has been dropping petals into little pink snowbanks all along the sidewalk and driveway. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the temperatures are rising. According to God’s promise, Spring is returning. (For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, yes, the turkeys have also returned to the backyard birdfeeders looking like giant overfed hummingbirds!)
We’re all quite familiar with the covenant promise found in Genesis 8:22 – “For as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never stop.” All our lives we have watched the seasons march by, one year after another. Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring in their God-ordained succession. It never enters our minds that the order could ever change. That’s because God has made covenants with the earth regarding seasons and times, position among the planets and stars, boundaries for the oceans, and zillions of other “natural” laws.
In its simplest definition, a covenant is an agreement between two parties that is a binding promise to which both commit. God has made the above-mentioned covenant with the earth and creation. He also makes covenant promises to His children, those who have committed to love and serve Him. It is especially comforting to know that God has made some special promises to widows (and orphans) because they are the most vulnerable segments of the population.
Psalms 68:5 says, “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in His holy habitation.” From His place in heaven, God’s heart is moved by the prayers and needs of widows. We’re told in Psalm 34:18 that “God is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits have been crushed.” There is no more crushing experience in life than the death of a spouse. Every single aspect of your life changes. Every. Single. Thing. John 14:18 says, “I will not leave you as orphans – comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn and helpless); I will come back to you!” (Amplified Bible).
God is aware of your situation today, dear widow friend, and He has promised to give special attention to the hearts of widows who love and serve Him. He promises to come close in our time of darkest despair, and He promises that He will not leave us without comfort or help! But He goes even further…He promises to return joy to our hearts!
When we are in the middle of February in the Heartland, we despair of ever seeing the arrival of Spring. We keep looking for the last snowstorm of the season, hoping beyond hope that the sun will be warm again, and the flowers will bloom again – and the snow will be gone again!!
The same thing happens in our hearts when we’re walking through a valley of grief. It’s nearly impossible to think that we could ever laugh again, ever feel joy again, and surely never dance again! In fact, we may even feel guilty if we find ourselves enjoying anything in life again. But that’s not how God wants us to walk. He wants us to return our grief to Him so that He can return our joy to us!!
Today, you may be walking in the darkest valley of your life. You may think that joy will never be yours again, and you may be wondering how you can even continue without that partner who gave you strength and stability. Let me encourage you to put your hand in the hand of the Father and let Him walk with you. Listen to His promises and be encouraged.
He says, “To all who mourn in Zion (that’s you!), he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” – Psalm 30:11
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore, my heart rejoices, and I give thanks to Him with my song.” – Psalm 28:7
There is a beautiful progression in these verses. God begins by giving us some things, desiring that we will once again stand like great oak trees, solid and unbending in the face of storms. Strong trees that lift branches towards heaven to declare His goodness and show His glory. He then strips off the mourning garments and clothes us with joy such that we can dance before Him. And finally, He puts a new song in our hearts that we can sing to Him once again, thanking Him for His faithfulness to us.
Join me in looking forward to the day when we can once again feel the joy in our hearts and know with all our being that God’s covenant promise is true for us!
Your thoughts and comments are welcome, or you can email me at email@example.com