Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Thursday, October 16

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
—Matthew 5:4

Having reached retirement, they wanted something to do. Both were full of energy, and although there were some health concerns (is there anyone who doesn't have a health concern, one wonders?) they wanted to harness their skills on behalf of the church. It didn't take long for them to hear about a mission project in India. It took even less time for them to sign up and to head across the globe.

When they returned, having learned and shared much, the health concern turned into cancer. They did all that could be done, but the disease took its course and Jim died. In the weeks that followed, Janice was surrounded by friends and family, and members of her church gave whatever consolation they had to offer. The way we gather around those who have experienced loss is an important, beautiful and transforming thing. It is “of life.”

Several months after Jim's passing we met each other on the sidewalk, and she had a question.

“Everyone says that time heals?” she said.

“That can be true,” I said.

“But I want to know where the pain goes. Where does the grief go when it is healed? Where does time take it?”

I was not sure what to say. Her question had never occurred to me. Where does it go?

“It goes straight to the heart of God,” I said. “Only God has the power to take death and overcome it with life. Only God can turn sorrow into joy. Reconciling opposites is what God's work is all about. Enemies become friends, and Good Friday turns into Easter Sunday.”

And then, as it does so often, a verse came to mind. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” Jesus said to the crowd. It is God who does the comforting, God who feels and receives the pain, and God who transforms it over and over again.

Gracious God, only you can receive our sorrows and transform them into life. Only you can carry our burdens and encourage our walk. For this we are thankful. In Jesus' name, Amen.