Our hearts skip beats and our lungs deplete of precious air when we hear of a precious loved one who has died. For a brief moment we are in shock at the news. We can’t seem to move the limbs of our bodies. Our minds forget how to think and turn to mush. “This can’t be” is our first line of defense in what will begin a cycle of grief. We go into a “twilight zone” until the news penetrates our being and we begin to do life on earth without this person until we meet them again in heaven.
God created us to cope with death of loved ones. God gave us Jesus. Jesus was and is our example of how to live abundantly here always preparing for our forever home with God. Jesus left us with help when He left earth after experiencing AND defeating death, rising again, to go back home to prepare a place for us! In the meantime, Jesus gave us with His Holy Spirit to comfort us and remind us of our blessed hope. Jesus, Savior and Lord, is our hope now and after the death of our temporary bodies.
What happens when we feel people are taken from earth all too soon? The shock goes deeper still as we try to come up with reasons why they died. But that is not a place to dwell.
We grieve for believers all over the world who are martyred for their faith in Jesus. We try to deny it, but it happens. Each one of those who die are someone’s father, mother, brother, sister…or cousin. John the Baptist was not only the one sent by God to prepare the way for the Jesus “whose shoes he was not worthy to tie the leather laces”, John was the cousin to Jesus. John was family.
Now read the news that is told to Jesus about John.
Matthew 14 – John
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
We learn from Jesus that it is okay to withdraw to a place and grieve and be comforted by the Holy Spirit. We also notice that withdrawing is not a place to dwell. Our strength to cope and move forward, one step at a time, is in the hope we have in Jesus Christ, knowing we will see them again!
Jesus will help us in grief to move forward in our thinking and behaviors as we look forward to our own heavenly home. He will love us in and through the pain. Grief is a condition of coping here on earth without the persons you love dearly. It is reassuring that Jesus knows exactly how we feel and will help us navigate the cycles of grief. We will never forget the people who have gone on before us but we can live productive lives while knowing who we loved is now waiting for us in heaven.
There are so many promises from God that gives us help, hope, and assurance in loss. Withdraw for a moment to remember those promises. His Word gives strength.
EPILOGUE – HOLY PAUSE, SERVING IN SORROW
A crowd gathered where Jesus withdrew. His grief turned to compassionate, miraculous ministry in feeding the 5000 plus people who came to hear him speak of God that day.
Withdraw. Rest. Focus on the God who loves, saves, rescues, helps, nourishes, matures as well as comforts our souls.
Maybe we should allow God to use our grief to make us more tender and compassionate to others.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You have me a new perspective this morning from your Word. You grieved. You cry when we cry in pain. You know exactly how we feel in loss. You know just what we need when we need it and you provide. For all your promises and what you have done in my life, I humble bow to thank you and then rise up to praise you. You are God of all. I love you with all that is in me. That you for teaching us, even in grief.
In Jesus Name, Amen
And I’m singing…
My Jesus knows just what I need
Oh yes! He knows just what I need
He satisfies and every need supplies
Yes, He knows just what I need