Luke 7:11‑16; Luke 21:1‑4  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
In the Lord's absence, it is according as we feel His absence, that He makes known to us His support. If the Bridegroom be absent, what can the children of the bride chamber do but fast? What else is their true and befitting attitude in the day in which He is thus, in one sense, "taken away from them?" If we realized this our position better, and felt more the absence of our Lord, we should more easily and happily ally ourselves to that which causes His absence—to His death; for that death, while it is on the one hand, the climax of His rejection from the earth; is on the other, the portal to us of life and glory. And it is according as we enter into the one, that we practically learn the other. It is as we realize the desolation here, which He so deeply tasted of, and which His absence entails on us, that we know the blessing and deliverance which He has secured for us.
There are three orders of desolation or widowhood presented to us in the Gospel of Luke. The first (chap, vii. 11-16) is found at Nain (by interpretation, " beautiful"). The world in itself is beautiful; but at the gate of the city—what a sight! A young man dead—the only son of his mother—and she a widow! To her, however beautiful the place, all hope and light had departed from it. Not only widowed but bereaved of her only son—her last link is severed; the desolation is complete. But what is the resource to her, or to one now similarly desolate? Christ—known in resurrection power; and the very fact of her desolation gives occasion to this knowledge of Him. If she had not been so desolate, she had not known Him thus: how could she? Her widowhood, her desolation becomes a gain to her, for she thereby learns the resources that are in Him. To be a widow of this order is to be with Christ and to know His succor. But unless we take our place as such, we shall not know Him thus. Abraham took this place in power when he offered up Isaac. Jacob took it when, on his death-bed, he turns, for a moment, from the earthly prospects of others, to the spot where his own were buried; and says, " as for me, Rachel died by me, and I buried her in the way of Ephrath," &c. Let the occasion be what it may, whatever brings us into real widowhood, brings us into blessing and likeness to Christ: for it is there that we take His yoke upon us and learn of Him.
The next order of widowhood we find in chapter xviii. Here the desolate one is not even left unmolested. Great as is her desolation and inability to help herself; still she is not without an adversary, and power is in his hand: so that it is not simple desolation, as is that of the first order. But here is one crushed already as a worm and no man, and an enemy at hand wielding his power against her. But what is the resource here? "Will not God avenge His own elect?" We are to pray and not to faint. David at Ziklag was in such a position as this. (1 Sam. 30) Widowed of everything; he was also in danger of the adversary; but he " encouraged himself in the Lord his God." And the greater his sense of desolation, the greater was his sense afterward of God's succor to him and the avenging of his enemies.
The third order is in chapter xxi.; and there it is the highest order. The widow answers to her calling; she is spending her all for the testimony of God. It is but two mites—and she might, one would say, have spent them, or one of them, on herself; but, no! she will spend it on the temple—the structure of testimony for God on the earth. She is a real widow, and that in the highest sense, for she is not only without expectation, but she has so far forgotten herself, that the little possession left to her she will not expend on herself; but her heart being in the circle of God's interests, she will give it to Him, and that without fear, but in simple and happy devotion to His interests on the earth which has no other interest for her. Such an one is a Philadelphian. Though with but " a little strength," he knows the present power of Christ, he is given a power, mouth, and wisdom which all his adversaries cannot gainsay or resist. Not a hair of his head shall perish. Christ will open to him a door that none can shut. Paul in Philippians is a widow of this order. In prison—without an interest in anything here, but what was for Christ's glory. He would spend his all on that. To him " to live was Christ."
It is as we want our blessed Lord that we receive of Him and know Him. May we do so more and more; for what that knowledge brings with it, having it alone can tell.
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