Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Widowers Have Feelings Too

As I was looking for an answer to yesterday's question, I came across my treasured copy of "Though I Walk Through The Valley," by Vance Havner, a traveling preacher and evangelist of the last century.

Married 33 years, he penned this book in 1973, saying in the preface:
"... I started writing books in 1934... But now grief and sorrow and bereavement have been my bedfellows and what I once knew only by observation I know now by experience...I am not building up a theory in these pages or marshaling the well-worn cliches. This is a record of months of watching my dearest die. ...I have not revised it but have left the whole story with its ups and downs day-by-day....Never forget, it is a walk THROUGH the Valley and it is the Valley of death's SHADOW. We are not driving down our tent pegs in these lowlands for there are heights beyond!"


The book is no longer in print, but his words still ring true for widowers (and widows) today:

I sit alone in Washington National Airport. All these years I have traveled but never has loneliness descended upon me as now. I find myself instinctively, subconsciously looking around as though my dear Sara ought to be somewhere near as she used to be, reading a magazine, just waiting, happy to be with me. I traveled for years before I met Sara but this is not like that. Now I've had her and she is gone. And the frightening knowledge that I can't call her when I get to Detroit or find her waiting when I return home chills the marrow of my bones. If ever I needed her it is now and it is hard to repress the insistent "Why?" No poor man like this ever needed a woman like that more than I do in these declining years. But no answer is available so I lay it all on the shelf for future reference.

This world was never more unattractive than today. These hurrying throngs of strangers with not a familiar face in the crowd---what a heartless world it can be for who knows or cares! I never wanted to leave it like I do this afternoon but my time is not yet so I breathe a feeble prayer and recruit my limited resources. ". . . my strength is made perfect in weakness," God has said (II Cor. 12:9) and I can say, "...when I am weak, then am I strong" (12:10). By that rule I should be a colossus now for I've never been weaker. I do not question my Father who is making all things work together for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. And what is that purpose? To be conformed to the image of God's Son, to be made like Jesus. It takes a lot of time and doing to make such stubborn, faulty lumps of clay into a vessel that He can use.
("Though I walk through the valley, by Vance Havner, © 1974)

Check old church library shelves and used book stores and buy up any copies of this book you might find!

On a personal note: C.S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed" contains his personal thoughts and feelings about his wife's death, but not much hope. While that's often the case in the throes of grief, I preferred "Though I walk through the valley" when I was grieving. Each author honestly exposes the feelings of grief and is helpful in that way to the griever, but Vance Havner's book also shows his hope, and I personally found that more helpful.
Another widower, Jerry Sittser, lost not only his wife, but also his mother and a young daughter when his minivan was hit by a drunk driver. His book, "A Grace Disguised" is one of the best. But in my opinion, but it's better absorbed after the first six months or so, when one is again interested in reading and better able to concentrate. Lewis' and Havners' books are quicker reads with much shorter chapters.   
If you know of books or blogs by Christian widowers, please list them in the comments below. I'd love to provide more resources for them.

ferree

7 comments:

  1. I am always inspired and encouraged by stories filled with hope. It is how I keep going one step at a time. Reading this piece by Vance Havner was really good.

    I loved this part ~ ". . . my strength is made perfect in weakness," God has said (II Cor. 12:9) and I can say, "...when I am weak, then am I strong" (12:10). By that rule I should be a colossus now for I've never been weaker. I do not question my Father who is making all things work together for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. And what is that purpose? To be conformed to the image of God's Son, to be made like Jesus. It takes a lot of time and doing to make such stubborn, faulty lumps of clay into a vessel that He can use. "

    I pray that I will be a usable vessel for Jesus.

    Thank you for your blog, it takes time and effort and I appreciate all that goes into making it and your helping widows.

    FlowerLady

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  2. Thank you for your encouraging comments FlowerLady, they take some time and effort too. ~ Hope ~ I have a greater appreciation for it now and it sounds like you do too. Stay warm today, I'm going to hunker down for the ice storm here in the Carolinas.

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  3. Oh, this made me cry! As I was driving in 2012, I heard Vance Havner tell his grief story on Moody radio. I have to read this book. Some good books for widowers that I have read written by Christian widowers are:

    I STILL BELIEVE by Jeremy Camp
    THE TENDER SCAR by Richard Mabry
    REFLECTIONS FROM A GRIEVING SPOUSE by H. Norman Wright

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  4. Thank you for the book titles, Candy. That's so cool that you heard VH on the radio! I heard him in person when I was a student at Moody. I wonder if his sermons etc are available on the Moody website? hmmm....

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    1. They are available here, Ferree.

      http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?seriesOnly=true&currSection=sermonstopic&sourceid=pjparisis&keyword=Vance+Havner&keyworddesc=Vance+Havner

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    2. I also appreciate your blog, Ferree, and your faithfulness to it. Another good book is Through tears to Triumph by John Wallace Stephenson. He lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. Kathy

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  5. Thank you Kathy for the book title and kind words, and thank you Candy for the web address! It's so nice of you both to help out like that.

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