A Rude Awakening

In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that I would lose my husband while we were still young and had young children. I would have cried just imagining the possibility. When I lost my husband to covid, broken doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. Grief was consuming me, and I knew that I would not be able to care for our nine children if I didn’t do something. I had to fight. So, I did the only thing that I knew for sure would save me, and I did it with a passion: I cried out to God.

Sitting in the Shadow of the Temple

As believers, we can spend many years in the courtyard of the Temple. I can honestly say that for twenty-four years, I was in the outer courtyard. My husband led me to the Lord when we first met, and, to some extent, I was following his lead for many years. The problem was that I considered myself a strong believer—a passionate believer even! Today I know that I was defining myself by a set of beliefs that I strongly agreed with. That is not the same as having a deep personal relationship with God. About a month before my husband got sick, I started to feel that maybe something wasn’t exactly right in my faith. Soon enough, I would discover what it was.

The Invitation

Today I know that God did not pay the ultimate price for us to sit outside the Temple. He wants us with Him, and He is calling each of us to enter into the Holy of Holies. We have worship songs about it, but entering into the Holy of Holies is not a special feeling we get during an anointed worship service. Entering into the Holy of Holies is a life journey. To embark on that journey, there are a few essential first steps we have to take. Without them, we will never make it.

The First Step into the Holy of Holies

Setting aside time with God every day has to be a priority. If we do not invest time in connecting with God, we will never enter into a real relationship with Him, and we will stay in the outer courtyard. Staying in the outer courtyard does not mean that you are not saved. But being in that place for a long time, where there is still a lot of the world and its distractions in you, makes it a lot easier to get up and walk away altogether.

You Come Alone

Like I said, for many years I was following my husband’s lead in my faith. I was fellowshipping in our congregation. I was listening to powerful messages and worship music. All of those things are absolutely important. But you can’t come into a personal relationship with God in a group. You have to come by yourself. Alone.

When I found myself completely alone, without anyone to lead me, that is when I found the way. When I was drowning in grief after losing my husband, I began crying out to God constantly. Every day. All day sometimes. Before I knew it, I was tasting something I had never known before: a real relationship with God! To be clear, it is only by His grace, not by my efforts. I just make the time to sit at His feet each day, something I had never done before. The more time I spend at His feet receiving from Him, the more grace He gives me to make time in my schedule to be there.

Jealous Love

God desires us to be with Him so much and is jealous for our affections. It is extravagant love, and it is also dangerous love. What do I mean by dangerous? If we do not give Him our hearts now, in His great love for us, He may decide to take something from us that we have let take His place in our hearts. Anything that takes the number one place in our lives instead of God is called an idol. Sometimes they are so close and dear to us, we can’t even see them.

Removing the Idols

We can decide to remove the idols ourselves. When an idol is removed against our will, it hurts! If God in His grace and mercy decides to remove an idol from our lives, it is an act of love. Today, I am in a place where I can say that I am grateful He took my husband home to be with Him. Now, I know you are thinking, “That is extreme! Why would she say that?” I can say that because when I lost my husband, I truly found God. And I can say to you that truly finding God is more precious to me than any earthly love that I could experience, even more precious than the amazing relationship I had with my husband and having him in my life.

My husband and I were amazing together. Our relationship was so blessed, especially in the last few years: we had been through so much together, and we were in a season of our love that was just so blessed. Still, that amazing love we had does not compare to God’s love. I know that my love for my husband and our relationship were in a more important place than having a relationship with God. Nothing should take the place of this amazing love in our lives: not our children, not the love of our spouses, not work or success. Nothing compares to it. Remove the idols from your hearts now while there is still grace! For twenty-four years, I was a lukewarm believer. Now that I have truly tasted and seen that the Lord is good, I don’t ever want to be in that place again.

My prayer for you is that God would open your heart and draw you with cords of love to begin the journey to know Him in a deep way, that He would enlighten your spirit, that He would reveal Himself to you as a living, loving God who is jealous for you, that He would draw you by His Holy Spirit into the Holy of Holies where He will share His secrets to your heart through the revelation of His Word, in Yeshua’s holy name, amen!

by Monica Obreja



The Valley of the Shadow of Death

After a month-long battle with covid on February 26th of last year, my husband Aurel went home to be with the Lord. When Aurel was in the hospital fighting for his life, I did the only thing I knew how: fight for him in prayer. I asked friends and family here in Israel and all over the world to pray. We had zoom prayer meetings at our congregation devoted to interceding for him. When the Lord finally took him home, surprisingly I did not feel angry at God or confused. Instead, God gave me a supernatural peace that we had done all we could to petition heaven for Aurel’s life and that, even though we may not understand it, this was God’s perfect will. Despite the shock and incredible loss, God gave me strength and grace to worship Him and even to encourage everyone there at my husband’s graveside after my sons and the men present had filled the grave. You see, in Israel it is the Jewish custom that the family and close friends lower the casket into the earth and then fill the grave with dirt. Burying your loved one yourself is an important Jewish tradition.

Aurel and Monica with their children in January 2020

The Battle

However, that was just the beginning. After we buried Aurel, I went home a widow with nine children. My youngest son was just four. While I was never so thankful I had so many children—we were an amazing support for each other in the first difficult months—I also felt the crushing weight of the grief of losing the love of my life and life-partner, the man who had led me to the Lord, and of the huge responsibility for my children’s physical and spiritual wellbeing now resting solely on me. Before Aurel passed away, I fought for his life in prayer. And now, I knew I had another battle on my hands: to overcome the all-consuming grief to be able to lead my family forward.

The Weapons of our Warfare

In the first months after Aurel died, I felt like I had to fight not to fall into a pit of grief that would consume me. Again, the only thing I knew how to do is pray—but I was so broken and disoriented by grief and the shock of losing Aurel that I did not know what to pray. So I prayed in the Spirit. Constantly!  The Apostle Paul says, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” (I Cor. 14:18) During that time, I prayed in the Spirit, sometimes for hours, perhaps just as much as Paul did, if not more. The Word says that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and expresses the inexpressible groanings of our spirits (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit was expressing my inexpressible grief and my deep cry for help to the Father.

As time passed, I felt like I had peace in the middle of a storm. God was strengthening me and His clarity guided me more and more. Prayer became the one thing I could “do” that consistently filled me and strengthened me – I was putting to the test all the spiritual truths I have learned from a life of walking with the Lord and reading His Word: He is a faithful rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. He comforts the brokenhearted. He gives us beauty for ashes, a garment of praise for a heavy spirit. He hears our prayers and answers. I know because I am the widow who came before her God and Judge again and again, and He has never once disappointed me. He gives me strength and wisdom to intercede for each of my children, to speak into their lives and to raise them in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. God is also speaking to me: He told me not to look back, not to cling to the past, like what He said to Lot’s wife: there was no longer a strong, supportive pillar for me in the past. Now it was just me and God in the present.

Another thing has happened in this process: my spiritual hunger for God keeps increasing. I sought Him constantly in the beginning to save me from falling into consuming grief. Now I am seeking not just because I cannot survive without Him but because I love His presence, I love His Word and I earnestly desire the spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 14). He is my exceedingly great reward!

A Revelation of Prayer

One day while washing dishes, I was pondering a passage I had been reading in 2 Kings that describes how Yoram King of Israel and Jehoshaphat King of Judah had gone out to fight the king of Moab: they got into trouble along the way when they could not find water for their troops and livestock. So, they sought out the prophet Elisha who told them:

…the LORD says, ‘Make this valley full of ditches. For the LORD says, ‘You will not see wind or rain, but the valley will be filled with water, and you will drink—you and your cattle and your animals. (2 Kings 3:16-17 Berean Study Bible)

I imagined those parched troops digging ditches in the hot Middle Eastern sun in a dry valley, how it must have seemed like pointless drudgery when they were already dying of thirst. But they still did their part. And then God did His miraculous part: He filled those ditches with water, providing for their immediate physical needs and then using those shimmering pools of water to throw the Moabites into confusion and give Israel the victory. God showed me that prayer is just like that: we are digging ditches in the dry ground when we pray. I see places of “dry ground” around me, but I do not let the dry ground determine the reality. I stand on God’s Word and promises in prayer, digging ditches in that dry ground, and then He will fill them with His miraculous water!


A year after losing my husband, I can say I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness and goodness to me and my family. I am also thankful for my brothers and sisters in faith: from the beginning of Aurel’s hospitalization and throughout this first year after his death, my home congregation, Tiferet Yeshua, believers from all over the body of Messiah in Israel, and even Christian friends in the nations, have surrounded me and my family with love and support in so many ways. My family and I could not stand without my brothers and sisters supporting me and my family.

Monica and her children May 2021