Do Not Let Your Hearts be Troubled
By Rev. Carol Simpson
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:1-3
Just about five weeks ago, I read this passage at my father’s funeral. Less than two weeks ago, I heard them again at the funeral of the daughter of a friend. Their daughter had recently lost a lengthy hard-fought battle with cancer. Then more recently, the words came to mind and guided my thoughts as I prayed with a family who had lost an adult child to suicide.
There is, of course, still much that we neither know nor understand about death. It remains one of life’s great mysteries. In fact, one of the few certainties we can grasp is that death is as inevitable as the rising and the setting of the sun. But why some die so young while others live to a ripe old age (and beyond!), is a question without a good answer, even for Christians.
Any person of faith knows that our faith alone will not spare us from heartache, sorrow or pain. In fact, perhaps we experience more of that because we are Christians, willingly shouldering part of the load carried by others in an attempt to make their burdens and sorrows a bit lighter.
I find this passage from John strangely comforting and reassuring when confronting the harsh reality of death. It does not so much dull the pain of loss as it allows me to shift my focus and re-image life. “I go and prepare a place for you….”, brings to mind an image of a large WELCOME sign or banner, a smiling face and outstretched arms. There is room for us in heaven, for you, for me, for our loved ones…preparations have been made, the welcome mat is out. If I look around, I don’t see oxygen tubes or wheel chairs, no scheduled chemo treatments or dialysis. The teen who was cyber-bullied into committing suicide and the young adult so overwhelmed by shame or pain and loss that death seemed a better choice than life, have been released from their earthly prisons of despair and self-loathing. Their hurt has been healed and they now bask in the embrace and unconditional love of God.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Think about that for a moment. Can you think of a better promise? I know many Christians who lament that they’ve never seen God “face-to-face” or heard Jesus speak to them. This passage suggests that it’s never too late. Perhaps God is saving the best for last!
Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your gifts of life and love. We thank you for the gift of your Son, who lived and died that we might know of your great love for us and of your promise of life everlasting. Teach us to embrace each day, to share Your love and to bring to You any burdens which we cannot bear alone. May we live, love and serve in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen
Rev. Carol Simpson
Member, Pine Street Church