Grief fills our hearts when a loved one leaves us, whether through death or abandonment or simply by moving to a new town. We can all identify with the grief of the disciples in John 16:5-11. They had suffered the loss of Jesus when he was crucified. And now, after his fantastic resurrection, they had to say good-bye again.
But as it was with the disciples, so it is with us: With every ending there is a new beginning. With every departure there is a new gift, because God is generous and loving.
Sometimes we try desperately to cling to what is lost, but then we miss the wonderful new blessings that God wants to give us. The disciples felt that kind of despair when Jesus told them that he would soon leave them to join the Father. They thought only of their own loss. This is why Jesus said, “Not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?'”
However, Jesus was not saddened by their self-centered thinking. He felt concern for them, so he said, “It is much better for you that I go!” And he reminded them again of the Advocate, whom he would give to them after he went to the Father.
God loves us so much that he never abandons us. He comes to us in the flesh through the love that others give to us, but when he takes them away, even then he doesn’t abandon us. Look around. What is he giving you as a new blessing while you’re saying good-bye? What new people is he offering to you? What new ministry does he want you to begin by using the lessons of your sufferings?
We say good-bye to our children when they grow up and move out. Though we miss their childhood dependence upon us, with the end of parental responsibilities comes new opportunities and new freedoms for serving the kingdom of God.
We say good-bye to our family and friends when they leave this world and move on to eternal intimacy with God. We miss them so very much, but they have gone to the Father where they intercede for us more powerfully than ever before. They’re available at a moment’s notice. They’re completely free to serve us through God, unencumbered by human faults and earthly limitations.
No ending is a dead end. God always provides a new path, a new friend, a new ministry, a new adventure. To discover the new, we have to take our eyes off the old. This does not mean we forget the old. While we treasure the past, we are to face the future and hold on tight to God’s hand. To hold his hand, we have to let go of whatever else we’ve been clinging to.
© 2013 by Terry A. Modica
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