The Widow’s Might

Dec 23, 2023

Christmas—it’s the time of year for giving and receiving gifts. Its what we do. It’s a way of letting those we care about know that we are willing to sacrifice something for them—because we love them. It warms our heart to give or to receive a thoughtful gift.

There is a well-known story about a giver who gave a gift of great value—and the giver never knew if the gift was received or even noticed.

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and He saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And He said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” (Luke 21:1-4 ESV)

Luke offers us no backstory on this woman. Who was she? … and how did she come to be a widow? Did she have children to care for? Why did she give so generously? Did Jesus speak to her? All we’re told is that she gave her ALL as an offering, and Jesus saw it.

“She gave two mites, not just one. The widow might have kept one coin for herself, and no one would blame her if she did. Giving just one would’ve meant giving half of all her money. Instead, she gave with staggering generosity.” (Enduring Word Commentary)

Jesus saw more than what she did; he saw the attitude of her heart which made her gift more precious than ALL the gifts of others put together. The offerings of the wealthy were much larger in size, but in value, they were actually nothing more than “spare change.”

What would cause this poor widow to give her everything to God?

GRATITUDE. She must have felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for past blessings that was greater than the pain of her loss and her loneliness—a “heart condition” that made her focus on the goodness of God rather than the meagerness of her existence.

LOVE. There must have also been in her heart a devotion so strong that she would willingly, without fanfare, make so reckless a gift as to give away her entire living allowance. There’s no indication that she hoped for anything in return. She gave—that was her reward.

TRUST. She must have also possessed the unencumbered faith to trust God completely for her future. This widow must have had a history of daily walking with—and trusting—God.

Fast forward to another time—another widow’s story. It was 1946, just after the end of World War II. A young soldier returned home from the South Pacific and married his high school sweetheart—the only girlfriend he ever had. They were so happy, and in their little upstairs apartment they began to plan for a bright future. Along came baby girl #1 … and then baby girl #2. The young man began to design a larger home that they could build together. They picked out the perfect lot, purchased the land, and they finalized the plans for their dream home.

But it was here that the story turned tragic. The young father injured his back, which landed him in the hospital, ironically at the same time his wife was admitted for the birth of baby girl #3. After some tests, the doctor informed him that he had more than just a back injury. Due to an untreated wartime illness, his condition was terminal—he had just two years, at best, to live. Many prayers went up for this little family as they looked to God for strength, and the young wife believed with all her heart that her husband would be healed. God heard their prayers, and He answered—but differently than they had hoped. After two years of battling the disease—at just 34 years—this daddy went to be with the Lord.

At first, hopelessness and despair threatened to destroy the young widow. But when she looked into the faces of her three little girls, she knew she could not let that happen. So, she made a decision—she decided to trust God! She chose to go to church every time the doors were open; to sit in the third row with her little girls right by her side. Day by day, week by week, God provided the strength to put one foot in front of the other and to keep moving forward. In time, He also provided the help and the resources to finish the home her husband had drawn the plans for. She found that, as her faithfulness grew, so did her strength.

She worked full time as a bookkeeper to provide for her girls, but she was also very talented musically. In time, she was asked to direct the church’s Junior Choir. She was happy to take this on and took the job very seriously. Many evenings after coming home from work, she’d cook supper, clean off the kitchen table, and pull out the old typewriter. Precious hours were spent typing out carbon copies of songs for her Junior Choir. No printers, copiers, or duplicating machines were available back then. Sometimes, she wrote out the sheet music for each part on staff paper—by hand. Her choir was a children’s choir, but those kids learned to read music and sing in three-part harmony. This was no half-hearted effort—she gave it her best. Her all.

At Christmas, the young widow wanted to do something special. She imagined her choir all in white choirboy robes with bright red bows. With no affordable mail-order source available, the only way to get choir robes was to hand-sew them. She got more offers than actual help, so, in the end, she sewed most of them herself, costing her more time and effort than she could easily afford during the busy holiday season. But from that Christmas long ago to this, those same choir robes have reappeared on other generations of children as a reminder of her special Christmas GIFT.

That widow was my Mother, and through the years, my sisters and I have learned much from her habit of sacrificial giving. We saw firsthand that giving overflows from a heart of gratitude, love, and trust. Mom looked past the pain and disappointment of loss and clung to the goodness and faithfulness of God. She never had much wealth to give, so she gave herself—her time, her talent, her life.
Above all, Mom knew that God is worthy of our very best. Never half-hearted, she repeatedly gave her ALL, and she taught others, including my sisters and me, how to give.

In Luke 21, Jesus saw what the widow did, and she earned the gratitude, love, and trust of the Master. The widow’s mite became her MIGHT. By her simple deed, a nameless widow was immortalized for all time—her faithfulness became her memorial.

Merry Christmas, Mom! You always taught us that Christmas—the joy, the music, the memories, the giving were all about Jesus. We’re so glad you’re not alone this Christmas. You stand singing with the multitudes not around the Christmas Tree, but the Throne!