The Mourning Dove

Luke 2:21-24 – On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons." (NIV)

Titmice, chickadees, and mourning doves come to my feeders to eat the seed. They twitter, sing, and coo as they feed. The doves are a hoot as they strut with their head-bobbing stride. Their grey coats pale in comparison to bright male cardinals, but I still admire them, because they are devoted, lifetime spouses.

Yes, doves mate for life. Maybe that's why God commanded that "a pair of doves" be presented as a sacrifice when a child was consecrated at the temple. That way, the mate wasn't left bereft. As I discovered from the doves at my bird feeders, they really grieve when they lose a mate.

Last spring, as a male dove pursued a female, competition made the male peck at his rival while simultaneously trying to attract the female's attention. Distracted by the chase, he might have become easy prey for feral cats. More than a few grey feathers beside a bit of blood on the snow told the tale. The sound of mournful cooing drew my eyes to a single dove upon a nearby wire, possibly now widowed. Can you imagine the sorrow of a single dove when it loses its lifetime mate?

Likewise, can you imagine our sorrow when one of us loses a mate? Before I became a widow, I remember offering the usual platitudes to recent widows — statements like, "This, too, shall pass", "Someday, joy will replace your sorrow", or "I can imagine how you feel … why, when I lost my …". All these well-meaning, but hollow platitudes may offer sympathy, but they don't fill the hole in our soul left by loss.

My friends, it's impossible for anyone to crawl inside the soul of someone who is grieving. We can't really understand how the other person feels. All we can know is how we would feel or had felt in a similar situation. Nor do we really know what we would do to ease our sorrow until we are plummeted into grief.

When my husband died, I felt hollowed out, as if someone had taken a giant meat cleaver and hacked off half my soul. I felt horrible. I lost the desire to live, but I still had to go to work. I fell to my knees begging God to let this cup pass from me. So, He provided solace through other recent widows and widowers in a grief support group. Slowly, through the support of others, a lot of prayer, and the study of God's Word, I came to accept my husband's death as part of God's greater plan for my life. Then, through serving others, God healed my hurting soul.

When sorrow sucks us into the dark night of the soul, genuine acceptance of God's will through heartfelt prayer can free us. My mother was right when she said to take our sorrows in prayer to the cross and leave them there. Because Jesus took upon Himself our grief and sorrow, He gives us the ability to raise our heads and accept what comes. As we walk in the bright light of His eternal presence, we know that He's freed us to go on living and serving Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, dear Saviour, enable us to accept Your will and live in the light of Your love as the children of God that You have proclaimed us to be, for we pray in Your name. Amen.

1 comment on this post.
  1. PresbyCan Feedback:

    This is GREAT!


    Wise words, Cass.


    Grateful for your understanding today, Cass.


    Well written and totally describes our widowhood.


    Hi Cassandra. Thank you for today’s devotional. It really spoke to me.


    Thank you, Cassandra, for sharing your story. I also am a widow and am finding that God is using that in both my life and others’.


    Thank you Sandy for your words today. I still have time when I feel lost but find the involvement in church and prayer a healing place.
    Blessings.


    Thanks Sandra
    Comforting material for me to pass on to those with similar loss. Thanks for your thoughtfulness.
    Blessings.


    Your writing touched my soul. When my hubby died, I dreamt that half of my body was dead. But healing comes by serving others. People sometimes say that they can’t imagine what it feels to lose a spouse. My reply is don’t even try because when it happens it is soon enough.


    Dear Cassandra,
    Thank you for sharing, not only your sorrow, but also some things that helped you to recover from the worst of your grief.
    Keep close to our God who heals in the certainty of heaven forever.


    Hi Cass,
    A most beautiful, heartfelt, devotional you have written. I get a picture of God covering His loved ones with a blanket of tenderness, love, mercy and comfort as they read this. I thank you very much for sharing it. God bless.


    Thanks for that reminder not to offer standard platitudes. I’m at the stage when many are losing spouses; not having had this experience leads to surface thinking. I needed this meditation from someone who has gone through this loss.
    Bless your gracious ministry,
    (BC.)


    Thank you Cass
    Again, just what I needed to hear. I am in the process of selling our house, which I am very sad about. I am finding it very hard to look after a house and all that comes with it. Changes. I need to let go and trust that God will bring me and my husband to new pastures that we will both enjoy.


    God has such perfect timing. I am reading this devotional on what would have been my wedding anniversary. Last year I called an ambulance for my stubborn husband and he died in hospital several days later.
    This past year has been difficult and a journey I had not planned to take for many more years. But God has been good and given me a good support system to remind me of his unfailing love and grace.
    May he continue to bless you and allow you to share his love with others.


    Thank you so much for your devotional.
    Several years ago my husband sustained a brain injury. The doctors didn’t expect him to live. I remember thinking, as well-meaning people would say things to try and encourage me, “well what would you say to yourself?” I could never come up with anything! I think I learned that just having friends and family there with me, not having to say anything, was probably the best thing, but of course praying with us, bringing meals, sending cards… those acts of love truly helped.


    Hi Cassandra,
    As my sister used to say: “Two things”
    Those of us who have not lost a spouse can not even begin to comprehend what that is like, and I am so glad to see that you through prayer and the group have, to some extend I’m sure, made your peace with it.
    Also. For many years more or less I had homing pigeons, which are of course part of the dove family. And they did indeed mate for life, however when one died, they would pine for their mate.
    I thought I would just tell you about this. Thank you for writing.
    Blessings.


    Dear Cassandra: Your message had a deep ring of truth. I too lost my husband several years ago. I climbed out of the blackest hole I ever knew. God gave me wonderful children to encourage me to put one foot in front of the other. I too wanted to just die the pain and grief was so great it was physical. But through my faith and friends and a love for my children I kept going and found joy again. I found it in children’s laughter, in watching birds as well, and my job. Now I have remarried, my children have married. However, through all of this I have been able to support and council others with their losses. It seems unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to understand. I heard many well-meaning platitudes as well. Thank you for your message and may God Bless you with much joy, and much love.


    Dear Cassandra, I am so sorry to hear of your husbands passing. I have missed your devotions and wondered what had happened. You have had my prayers as well. Your timely devotions speak to me and have lifted my spirit so many times and I have missed your witness. However, I truly feel your pain. My husband of 60 years has terminal liver cancer.
    It has been a long struggle but I thank God for each day I have him. It is sisters in Christ as you who have helped me to keep going with the Grace of our Heavenly Father. As you can imagine this devotion truly speaks to my heart and I thank you. May God continue to bless you and yours and hold you close as you continue down your path of healing. Know that you are in my prayers too.
    (Tx)