Finishing up a long day’s work, I pressed the touch screen on my computer one last time and saw a date that was very familiar. After a moment, I realized: Today is my dad’s birthday. Quickly my thoughts went to my mom. Widowed 20 years ago, my mother is a living testimony of God’s provision and strength for those who come face to face with life’s hard unpredictability.

Lonely days, difficult decisions, redefined relationships. The human mind can only begin to predict what the death of a spouse means to the one who remains. The reality is altogether different and all too real. As our society becomes more transitory, many widows and widowers must learn to navigate this drastic change in life without family members nearby. But regardless of the busyness of our lives, the Bible reveals that the care of the widow rests first with her family and then with the church (1 Timothy 5:3-16).

Carrying the responsibility to care for the vulnerable (Exodus 22:22-23) can lead to blessing as we fulfill God’s call to protect (Job 24:21-24). Proverbs 15:25 tells us, “The LORD tears down the house of the proud, but he protects the property of widows.” Ruth’s commitment to Naomi became a source of God’s blessing for both women (Ruth 1:16), one that extended into subsequent generations (Ruth 4:13-20).

Likewise, Naomi’s story proves that providing justice for widows extends beyond business or financial transactions (Ruth 4:9-10). Support groups and monthly activities are helpful in creating community for the widowed, but “God places the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6) to remind them that they’re still needed and—most of all—loved. Loved by Him and by those who live out His love.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Mark 7:1-37