Encounter: Widow of Nain

Encountering Jesus’ desire

to enter into our struggle

Luke 7:11-17

By Jane Kammerzelt

The first thing that resonated with me in the story of the widow of Nain was the loss of her son. Even though I have three sons, just thinking about this type of loss, I could not think of one son that would hurt less to lose. The loss of any child is devastating, and, in this story, this woman’s loss was compounded by the fact she did not have a husband either. The text doesn’t say if she had daughters, but it could be implied because it does not reference the son as her only child. As we know, in those days, women needed men to take care of their financial needs.

Today’s post read by the author

In looking at the context, Jesus came from His last noted miracle on the way from Capernaum about 25 miles away. With that one, He healed a sick servant of a Roman Centurion, whom He didn’t choose to physically visit. He just gave His word. Now, He’s walking into the city of Nain just as the funeral procession is walking out of the city with an actual dead body. We know that He knew exactly what was going on and what He would do next, yet we read that He was moved with compassion toward the woman. And in some texts, it says His heart went out toward her. When I read that He said, “Don’t cry,” I imagine how tenderly He must have said that to her, while feeling the loss she felt.

This was the first recorded account of Jesus raising someone from the dead, so it is no surprise they were all filled with awe. Personally, I’m surprised He didn’t say “Don’t scream” because the sight of a dead person sitting up was a “first.” He must have certainly had a calming effect.

Getting back to the tenderness of Jesus, I am touched that He presented the young man back to his mother. This was so intensely personal to them and now, thousands of years later, it can be just as intensely personal to us. He made sure she was restored with this lovely gesture of being present and not just “sending the order” like He did in the previous healing. 

My biggest take away from this account is the big picture view that nothing is a surprise to God. We may be reeling from a sudden shock or the long drawn out saga of a very painful experience, and He is not only aware but is walking right through it with us. While we may not understand why we have to go through these things, we can choose to trust that He is going alongside through our situation and that His heart goes out to us.

We are only struggling alone if we don’t believe He is with us. Psalm 34:18 assures us that He is near to the brokenhearted. I can confidently testify, from personal experience, that God was with me through the most difficult things I have ever gone through. I didn’t need to invite Him in. He was already there, and I knew it because I experienced peace that was beyond understanding. It became evident to me that to appropriate His peace, and understand that He is working out His will in our lives, we have to believe what His Word says in places like Romans 8:28 and Hebrews 11.

The more I read details about how Jesus interacted with women, the more I feel very much loved by Him, just because — and not because I do anything to earn it. 

Knowing and understanding how much I am loved gives me courage to love others when it might not be reciprocated, courage to try things that might actually flop, but it’s OK. I think of how much I love my children and grandchildren, and it’s only a spark compared to what God thinks of me. 

I hope this story reminds the reader about the tenderness and attention to details of Jesus, so they can have full confidence that He loves each one of us so very, very much. He wants us to appropriate His peace as He said, “I tell you these things so you have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Jane Kammerzelt has been in Eugene for most of her life, having come from California as a teen to serve in ministry here. She has three sons and six grandchildren, all who live in Oregon. She calls herself a “serial volunteer” and loves to connect with people whether it’s on Sunday mornings at church or in her travels abroad. She currently serves at UFC on the Missions Team and the Encore lunches.