Faithfully serving. Humbly worshipping.
Silently crying. Desperately praying.
They are the Sunday Morning Widows.
A member of our church introduced me to the term some years ago as we surveyed our congregation and recognized all those women who gather with Christ’s church every Lord’s Day and do so while their husbands are somewhere else. He mentioned that he had heard the phrase in another church, and as I thought about all the churches I have visited, I agreed that it is a somewhat common phenomenon.
I also agreed that theirs is a state to be pitied.
And to be celebrated.
Every Sunday morning, these women rise and prepare to gather with the church for worship.
Many of them get their children ready by themselves. Plenty of them have to see to baths, breakfasts, and bedrooms while working around a still-sleeping husband or a father who has planted himself in front of the TV. Sometimes he actively discourages her from going, and there are few children who would choose Sunday School over a trip to the river.
These women overcome tremendous inertia every week. Their efforts are nothing short of heroic.
That’s not to say that all their husbands are servants of the enemy (though I wouldn’t say that some aren’t). Husbands come in different shapes and sizes.
There’s the laborer, of course.
He has to work. That’s all there is to it. True, some guys make more of their work than they need to. For some, the possibility of their employer calling them in is enough to keep them shuttered up for the day. Others volunteer to work more, some for more cash, others out of a deep psychological need to feel important; either way their work is more of a preference than an actual requirement.
But there are a good many God-fearing Christian men, who strive to be good husbands and fathers, and would love nothing more than to worship God in the congregation and serve the Lord with their gifts in the body of Christ. These tend to encourage their wives to go where they wish they could be and do what they wish they could do. They neither deny nor begrudge their spouses the pleasure that they must temporarily forego.
On the other hand, some men are simply lazy.
There’s not much that can be said here except that they choose the path of least resistance. These men know nothing of the spiritual refreshment of worship because they know nothing of spiritual labor. And if it’s not spiritual laziness, it’s physical; some guys just play all Saturday night and want to spend all Sunday sleeping.
Ironically, every now and then their laziness can have an interesting effect. I won’t speculate about all the possible reasons, but they will occasionally be seen with their wives in church because it was somehow easier to go to church on that day than to stay at home.
Sad to say, some women are married to louts.
(In the singular, I call such a man a louse because he greatly resembles the blood-sucking parasite that brings misery to the ones closest to him, but the plural lice just doesn’t pack the same rhetorical punch.)
They’re just awful. They’re not with their wives in church because they’re drunk or hung over. They’re obstructionists, actively discouraging their wives from worshipping the Lord with the church. They yell, curse, make messes, hide car keys, refuse to help at home, and try to get the children to side against their mother.
When these Sunday Morning Widows arrive at church, they’re often silent. They might be late because of their husbands, or because they’ve taken a few extra minutes in the car to redo their makeup, now smeared by the tears they’ve shed on the way. There might be a quiet prayer meeting with some close friends or an “unspoken” prayer request. They don’t want to shame their spouses publicly, but every week is a battle. Sometimes they win; sometimes they lose. If they can only find a seat and offer praise to the Lord – the voices of other saints resounding in their ears, confirming their faith, reminding them that they are not alone – they’ve won a major victory.
Finally, some women come to church alone because their husbands are lost.
Their men do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of them are the aforementioned louts; others are decent, respectable men who are otherwise good husbands and fathers. They’re happy for their families to have faith, but it’s not for them. One of the greatest gifts they can give their wives is their presence with the church on a Sunday, maybe Easter or Mother’s Day. You can see the joy in her eyes when he sits beside her, maybe even holding her Bible, and any church that has the slightest amount of empathetic love will be rejoicing – and praying! – with her.
Praise God for these Women!
I thank God for the Sunday Morning Widows! They are our Sunday School teachers, our Children’s Church workers, our van drivers, our pianists and choir and praise team members, our nursery volunteers, and our hospitable greeters. They are our faithful sisters in Christ.
I cannot personally imagine the struggles that they face every week, and even every day of the week. There is an important part of their lives that is difficult or impossible to share with the person she loves most dearly. Some men attempt to ease this burden, some increase it, and others are woefully ignorant.
God is not ignorant. He knows the trial of faith these women endure. He has a crown of life reserved for them on the day of judgment. (James 1:12) He hears their prayers and bottles their tears. He looks upon them with mercy, covers them with grace, and fills them with strength to serve and worship one more time. Alone.
But not alone.
Sunday Morning Widows, your church salutes you.
And I say, God bless you!
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you
And give you peace.