"How do you celebrate a wedding anniversary with only half of a couple?" asked Margaret Nyman only 26 days short of being wed to Nate for 40 years. Her husband, who had succumbed to pancreatic cancer six weeks after his diagnosis, passed away surrounded by his wife and seven grown children. Like many of Margaret's widow friends had already realized before her, losing her husband to death turned Margaret's life upside-down and brought uncertainty at every turn.

The unwelcome transition into widowhood is traumatic and often misunderstood by those who have not been affected by such a loss. But since most women will outlive their husbands, it is reasonable to anticipate that many of us will be widows in our lifetime. And despite the fact that many mental-health professionals gauge the death of a spouse the number one stressor a person will face in their lifetime, most women are caught unaware of the significant challenges they must navigate once their husbands are gone.

Carol Cornish, in The Undistracted Widow: Living for God After Losing Your Husband (Crossway, 2010), provides hope and direction for widows who desire to remain devoted to God despite the harsh storms that accompany their new season of life. Even though scriptural encouragement for widows is plentiful, Christian widows are often scrambling for resources that speak to their specific pain and heartache. Grief and bereavement groups may provide social support and connection, but the woman seeking to embrace her widowhood from a God-honoring perspective may easily come up short or be led astray by worldly counsel about where to find comfort in a time of loss.

Cornish, who lost her husband to lung cancer, offers widows a biblical perspective that grew out of her own heartache and grief. The emotional shock of saying goodbye to her lover and friend of 40 years started her on a journey toward knowing God in a deeper, more trusting way. Through her study of Scripture and a heightened need to see God as sovereign over her loss, she began to collect her thoughts, prayers, and insights into a book that has become a treasure of wisdom for anyone struggling to trust and obey God in difficult circumstances.

The first step in Cornish's journey hinged on her willingness to understand her state of widowhood as "not simply a problem to be solved or a circumstance that must somehow be overcome," but as a calling for her life that had been arranged by God. The notion that "God designed our widowhood … [and] all God's designs flow from his love for us" seems incompatible with the suffering that accompanies such loss. But her desire to yield to God's will instead of nursing an angry grudge or bitter suspicions about his goodness became the foundation for her healing and growth. The many biblical promises that God gives to widows, including that he will protect, uphold, maintain, and execute justice for the vulnerable and defenseless confirmed that God had not abandoned her. Over time, she discovered that her husband's death opened a door to dependence on and devotion to God that marriage had not permitted.

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But what would tempt a Christian widow away from this kind of undivided attention to God? There are many challenges to face, including loneliness, fear, self-pity, and the desire to seek comfort outside of God's will. These struggles are universal but are intensified when a relationship that once brought fulfillment and joy has ended through the finality of death. Cornish is able to speak directly to such temptations and how she found ways to combat them, primarily through time in God's Word, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and a constant reminder that Christ was the treasure that she could never lose. Paul's admonishment that the unmarried woman should "promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord" in 1 Corinthians 7:34-35 guides her assertion that "loving God and living for him is the key to honoring him in widowhood." Her own experience confirms that God's sufficiency in the midst of hard, even devastating circumstances manifests the beauty of Christ to a world that is terrified of death and seeks any possible distraction to quiet the restless, aching soul within.

Although this book has a specific audience in mind, Cornish communicates gospel truths that are not just for widows. She writes plainly and unwaveringly about the hard topic of grief and loss by acknowledging sorrow but not indulging it. As believers, we should grieve differently than the world does, but what that looks like realistically and practically is often mysterious. The Undistracted Widow removes the mystery by offering biblical wisdom, compassion, and honest answers to women who have found themselves on this path, and to those who want to walk beside and support them. Cornish conveys with first-hand authority and biblical conviction that beneath the frowning providence of widowhood lies a storehouse of spiritual blessings to any woman willing to look for such a treasure.

Lynn Roush is a counselor at The Crossing, an Evangelical Presbyterian church in Columbia, Missouri. She received her master's degree in counseling psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She has written about New Year's resolutions and Jon and Kate Plus 8 for Her.meneutics, and reviewed What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage for Christianity Today magazine.