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FIRST-PERSON: Who me? A widow?

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)–Most people don’t like to discuss death, so they delay talking about it until it’s too late. Yet, if more widows in the church would speak up about some of their problems, other women probably would become more motivated to deal with the possibility of being widowed.

The most common cause of death for men is a heart attack. Cancer is the second most common, followed by diabetes or pneumonia. However, nearly half of all the widows I have counseled lost their husbands in an accident. My personal statistics may be somewhat slanted, because younger widows are more prone to seek help than those who are widowed at an older age.

The average age a woman is widowed is 52, and approximately 80 percent of all married women will be widowed at least once in their lifetimes.

God certainly has a high regard for the circumstances of widows, because the Bible tells us that, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

Know your finances

Married women who are not widowed may not want to believe any of this could ever happen to them. But, since husbands usually die before their wives, circumstances could change literally overnight. An extremely important decision that a wife and husband can make is to be sure the woman knows how to manage money properly.

Every wife should keep the family’s budget for at least one year and learn enough to be able to make critical financial decisions in the event of her husband’s death.

Do you understand the difference between a lump sum settlement and an annuity? Will you need an attorney to settle the estate or will you be able to do it yourself? Do you know how to invest long-term surpluses or how much money to risk in one place? If you don’t know these things just continue reading, and then contact Crown Financial Ministries at 1-800-722-1976 or visit our Internet site, www.crown.org.

Important decisions

The single most important decision you or any recent widow can make is to make no decisions — about investments, loans, new cars, or anything else that might jeopardize your assets — for at least one year. That means park your money in an insured savings account and live off the interest, if possible.

Other decisions also can save you from losses, but investing or lending money in the first year can cost you everything. That first year is the time when a widow is the most vulnerable and, therefore, the most susceptible to bad advice or outright fraud.

Get adjusted to your new life during the first year and become educated on the ins and outs of money management.

Unfortunately, most of the pressure for a widow to make decisions comes from relatives and friends. Once the will is probated and insurance money begins to roll in, people start coming out of the woodwork with advice or needs.

Generally, widows are unaccustomed to handling the large sums of money that often come from the death of a husband. So, let me repeat: The single most important decision is to make no financial decisions that might jeopardize your assets for at least one year.


Right now, you may think you will never remarry, but nearly 90 percent of all widows will marry again. And, according to the Apostle Paul, there is no reason why a widow should not remarry, assuming it is the Lord’s will. “Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach” (1 Timothy 5:14).

That may be sound advice for older widows as well. However, remarriage for the widow with children brings with it a whole new set of decisions or problems.

When a widow with minor children considers remarriage, it can be very difficult to blend families. Statistically, more than 70 percent of blended families divorce. The best success rate is among strongly committed Christian families where only one spouse has children or the children are grown. But whether or not you remarry, you still have to include your deceased spouse’s family in your plans.

Prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements between those contemplating marriage are common in a society that plans for divorce before the marriage begins. Unfortunately, many Christians have been deceived into believing that they must protect their assets against a future spouse.

However, God desires that a husband and wife be one working unit — literally, one person. How can two be one when they divide their assets into two parts from the beginning? Violating the biblical principle of oneness can destroy a relationship.

Often a woman with assets seeks a prenuptial agreement because of poor counsel or bitter past experiences. But when this is done it allows Satan an access to the marriage. Usually, prenuptial agreements drive a wedge in a relationship that, under the right set of conditions, will quickly turn into a rift.

Material possessions usually are not the problem. They are merely the outside indicators of an inside problem. “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16:10).

Nevertheless, there are circumstances in which a prenuptial agreement may be biblical and logical. When an older couple get married and neither has need of the finances of the other, an agreement can be made to hold all assets in trust for the lifetime of either surviving spouse. If the funds aren’t needed, the trust will be distributed to the heirs of the first spouse at the death of the second. This effectively gives a couple total access to the funds if needed. If they aren’t needed, the heirs receive the residual assets. Under these circumstances, there is no violation of the biblical principle of oneness.

Encouragement to widows

I sincerely pray that God will give you the wisdom to become the best steward possible over the assets He has entrusted to you, both material and human. If you have children, being a parent is your first and foremost concern. God can and will be a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless if you will allow Him.

Although God has promised to be your source and comfort, He often chooses to use believers to meet needs. As a widow, it is easy to feel like a needy person. One way to avoid that is to take the Lord at His Word and invest your time, talent and resources in others. “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure — pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38).

One of the most difficult things to do is to ask for help when you need it. Some widows are more financially stable than others, but all widows need help now and then. You need people who will act as sounding boards for difficult decisions and you may need advice on repairs from time to time. Part of giving is sharing your needs with others and allowing other believers to help.

If for any reason you don’t get a biblical response from fellow believers, help make some changes. There is no one better equipped to help widows than a widow. As you give, you’ll find God will provide both the time and resources. If your church remains indifferent to the needs of widows in your midst, then you should seriously consider finding a church that does have a biblical response to widows.

For further information please write to Crown Financial Ministries, PO Box 100, Gainesville GA 30503-0100; call 1-800-722-1976; or visit www.crown.org.
Burkett is chairman of the board of Crown Financial Ministries. A Southern Baptist layman based in Gainesville, Ga., Burkett is the host of the national “Money Matters” radio program and author of two resources published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention: “How Much Is Enough? 30 Days to Personal Revival” and “Jesus on Money.”

    About the Author

  • Larry Burkett