Widow of Nain: A Heart that Mourns

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widow's son and jesus

Desolate. Weeping. Poverty-stricken. Hopeless.

“Call me Bitter.”

Not exactly words you’d like to be said of you. But that is exactly how a widow in 1st century Palestine would be described. This is where we find the widow from Nain. Nameless, without a husband, and now childless too.

It was for these very reasons that God commanded His people to look after the widow and the orphan. It was also for the reason that the Israelites had once been desolate and like widows/orphans, enslaved in Egypt, that God commands them to care for the widow. Exodus 22:21-22 – “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.”

God never stopped listening. He most certainly heard the cries of this widow from Nain; they rang in His ears as He walked up to the gates. She did not simply experience a miraculous healing—she experienced restoration. She learned that the Messiah came to restore life, not just bandage wounds.

Think back to the story in the book of Ruth. Naomi, much like this widow of Nain, had no hope of a full life without a redeemer. She had lost her husband and then her sons. The future was bleak. She requested that people stop calling her “Naomi” and instead call her “Mara” or “bitter”. Then Boaz enters the picture, becoming the archetype of Christ, the kinsman-redeemer. In Ruth 4:14-15 the women of Israel spoke a blessing over Naomi saying, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” God saw her. He heard her. And He did something about it.

Restored. Joyful. Full of Hope.

That’s more like it.

{Stay tuned next week for Part 2! This was my intro to the Bible study on the widow of Nain. Feel free to read Luke 7:11-17 for the story.}

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