Grief and Compassion – Women of the Gospels series from @seeking1st – the Widow of Nain


Do you know that feeling of hitting rock bottom?

In this post by Ernie Feasey he describes how, at a time of grief, when he was at a very low ebb, he had an unexpected encounter with Jesus bringing a conviction that he was not alone in the anguish he was going through.

Feeling deserted by God

 Even surrounded by people you can feel completely alone and abandoned, God-forsaken. The widow of Nain, whose story is told in Luke 7: 11-17,  must have felt like that on her way to bury her son. To lose a child is the most devastating form of grief. To lose the young adult and only son on whom that widow depended,  in a culture where childless widows were in a hopeless destitute situation, was desperate indeed. Her misery and fear must have been profound.

Maybe she knew the words of God to Joshua

“Be strong and courageous: do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NRSV

As she walked down the stony path to the cemetery outside the city wall of Nain, she probably felt God had deserted her and that words of promise like that only apply to the great male heroes of the distant past, like Joshua.

Experiencing God’s intervention

The unnamed widow of Nain and the crowd of mourners with her met another crowd coming up the hill, following Jesus. Jesus noticed her – a grief-stricken stranger. He felt her grief as if it were his own, deep in his guts, as God feels the grief of all who mourn or suffer in any way. God, in the person of Jesus, stepped in and changed the situation in a most astonishing way, flouting convention and bringing unexpected new hope. If you don’t know how I suggest you read Luke 7: 11-17

Touched by the compassion of Jesus

The story of the widow of Nain is not so much about that particular woman of the gospels, but about the compassion of Jesus. Over and over again in the gospels Jesus comes alongside those who need him, notices those others shun or think don’t matter, which often included marginalized women. Other examples in my women of the gospels series include the widow at the Temple Treasury or the woman with chronic bleeding. Whatever the situation, Jesus in compassion and power brings new hope and new life. Through his Spirit let loose in the world, this is as true today as for those who met him face to face 2000 years ago. Physical miracles may be rare, but those are not the only miracles.

Miracles still happen

  • Whenever someone is touched by Jesus, perhaps through the prayer or the comforting arm of another
  • whenever people reach out in compassion and practical acts of helping
  • whenever……(you finish this sentence)

For further reflection

  • Who needs compassion?
  • Could you be an agent of the compassion of Jesus? How?


Image Credit: photo by Tim Green, CC License


About Nancy Wallace

Blogs as Seeker ( Tweets on Twitter as @Seeking1st. Church of England minister and grandmother, struggling to learn to pray, paint and play.