John 14:1-2 – Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (NRSV)
I am sure that many of us have heard these words spoken at funerals. I just heard them again at a funeral.
There are days when I feel that I have had to say good-bye to way too many friends. I guess in a way it is an occupational hazard for people like me. I am a chaplain in a seniors' care facility, so the people with whom I work are all in the last stages of their lives. I have come to know and love many special individuals, and it is always difficult to say good-bye when that time comes. It is definitely the hardest part of my job.
In Jesus' earthly ministry, He came close to different people, but especially to His disciples. As He tried to prepare them for His journey to the cross, He said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me."
There may be some today who are walking the road to the cross. Perhaps you have been handed a terminal diagnosis, or perhaps someone you love is fading away before your eyes. Walking the road to the cross is never easy. Saying good-bye to those we have come to love is never easy. I remember well many years ago when I was journeying with a close friend who was dying. It was my first experience with the death of a friend my age. We were both in our early thirties, and we both had young children. At the time, I had ministered to many families in their time of loss, but this one was completely different for me. I remember visiting with my minister and saying, "All I am able to do when I am with my friend is to cry. I want to be strong. I want to be more professional." In his wisdom, he said, "Your friend has enough professionals. Your friend needs a friend in this journey. Your friend needs you, and friends weep together." I'll never forget those kind and wise words as I journeyed to the cross with my friend. Sometimes, all that we can do as we journey to the cross is to be there and to be a companion for those who also walk to the cross.
As Jesus prepared to walk towards the cross, He took His disciples with Him, went to a place called Gethsemane, and said, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." (Matthew 26:36 NIV) Sometimes we are called to be companions, just to sit and be there. The disciples did not do that well; often that is one of the most difficult things we are asked to do.
My prayer for all of us today as we journey towards the cross is that we will draw strength from those who are with us, that we will look at the One who has gone before us, and that we will know that we do not walk alone.
Prayer: Loving and gracious God, we thank You that we do not walk this journey alone. Especially during times of loss, we thank You for those special friends who walk with us, and we thank You for always being with us. Help us to draw near to You as we make this journey. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
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