Thursday, April 21, 2011

Parting Words

Psalm 23:4. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me."

Whatever dark places we have to travel through, God promises to be with us. What a comfort that is! But it would be nice to have a human alongside of us too.

II Corinthians 1: 3-5. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."

God has been with us in all our troubles of this life. With the same comfort we have received, we are to comfort others. It's a frightening place to go, taking a friend's hand through the valley of the shadow of death. My first impulse is to run away.

A friend once told me she is a good listener. (I agree.) She says she is good at visiting people in the hospital, just sitting with them and providing comfort. I admire her. I hope if I'm the one in the hospital, she will visit me. I would be strengthened and encouraged by her presence. Even now, this woman is traveling through the stormy night with not one, but two friends of hers.

I'm not so confident of my comforting skills. Maybe I was traumatized when I was a very young nurse working on the oncology floor of a large hospital. The suffering of people was devastating to me. I felt so helpless to comfort, so powerless to help. I still feel that way. Friends, I am praying for courage to walk with you and climb into that boat as you battle the winds and waves.

On this Maundy Thursday, the day we remember as the Last Supper, I am thinking about Jesus' parting words. He washed his disciples feet and said to them, "I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you." Then he said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another." John 13.

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13.

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