Matthew 14:13, “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place…” (NIV)
Loss. Having someone, or something, removed from your life. Sometimes unexpected. Often painful. Seeing a loved one pass away is never easy to surmount emotionally. People respond to it in different ways. Some feel regret over having left words of reconciliation unsaid. Some feel remorse over having squandered opportunities to make the most of time spent with another. “What if” scenarios can wreak havoc on the mind. Only after someone is gone do we realize just how precious, and fleeting, time can be.
Jesus was certainly no stranger to loss. He was not immune to the sorrow and despair associated with life, and death. Jesus was all too aware how difficult it can be to say goodbye to others on earth. Matthew 14:13 reveals how Jesus dealt with such anguish. He went to God for strength and support. When Jesus learned of John the Baptist’s execution, He withdrew to a secluded place to mourn. John was not only a relative of Jesus, but a fellow minister. His death deeply moved Jesus. Jesus did not suppress His emotions; He met them head on. He stepped into a boat and rowed away to escape the noise and commotion of the crowd. He needed to talk to God – One on One.
Jesus’ response to distress and loss has much to teach us. Rather than lashing out at others, Jesus sought a solitary place to redirect His focus. Rather than allowing the burden of the moment to consume Him, Jesus prayed. Rather than turning away from God, Jesus conversed with God. Jesus understood that there is only one constant source of comfort: the Lord.
Jesus had the proper perspective. He did not hide from heartache; He embraced it. He let loss be an opportunity for God to console Him. An opportunity for God to reassure Him. An opportunity for God to renew Him. How different would our lives be if we behaved in the same manner? We will never fully understand the marvelous, yet mysterious, plan of God in this lifetime. We will never understand why one life vanishes so quickly and another remains for a hundred years. This reality, however, should not diminish our praise for God. In fact, it should compel us to seek Him, and serve Him, all the more. God, the Sovereign One, is in control over all. May God’s will, not ours, be done on earth.*
Kevin Orr (10/9/2018)
*Portions of this blog post is extracted from portions of my self-published, now discontinued, book titled “Love Has Come: A Twenty-Eight Day Journey Through The Gospel Of Matthew”, which was originally published in 2010 (Pleasant Word, a division of WinePress Group)