My father passed away suddenly when I was fifteen, and well I remember the stunned disbelief of family and friends at the loss of a vibrant, gifted husband and dad. In my memory, the funeral was surreal and muted; the still, pale figure in the coffin could not be the man I knew. My grandmother, grieving, bent over to kiss his cheek and murmur, "Good bye, dear". Even all these years later, my eyes fill with tears with the feelings of loss, for he left a void space in our family that nothing could ever fill. Yet, our family, his co-workers, neighbours, and friends pulled together, the feelings of helplessness and sorrow carried on all our shoulders.
What of the terrible distance now between us and the ones who have died of the virus, the victims of the mass shootings in Nova Scotia, Canada, the Canadian military personnel lost in the helicopter accident over the Ionian Sea, and Capt. Jennifer Casey killed in the recent Snowbirds crash? The pandemic has forced the grieving ones apart, for gatherings at funerals are prohibited, and the presence of family to comfort and stand together is no longer there to buffer the waves of sadness and loss. And what of our elderly parents in care facilities, separated by windows, masks, and gloves from their loved ones? How do we bear witness to the tragedies, to the loneliness, and to the kindness of caregivers who hold their hands when we cannot?
Hebrews 12:1-2a – Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. (ESV)
This great cloud of faithful men and women have gone before us, and we, though in sorrow, are witnesses to their faith and endurance in everything that they have experienced and lived through. Now we, too, run the race with endurance and commitment, being urged to be steady and not to turn aside from the course. Our great example is Jesus Himself, who is with us as the race starts, continues, and finishes at life's ending.
Though we ache for those who are devastated in our own country and abroad, and though we support them with our words and prayers, the world also watches our own faith and conduct. We train our eyes on Jesus, not on the cloud of witnesses, or on the sins that cling so closely, but on Him who gives us joy, life, encouragement, and guidance. In our journey on this good earth,
Philippians 1:6 – I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)
Prayer: Dearest Lord, as we grieve for our lost loved ones and for the tragic victims of violence and accident and sickness, help us to keep our hearts and souls fixed firmly on You and Your goodness. Hear our prayers as we support and stand with the ones left behind in sorrow and great loss. In Jesus' mighty name, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Kum Ba Yah My Lord" (Lyrics)