Even in Grief

by Stacy Bender

Whether we are full-time ministers/pastors/priests or lay people, we are all called to minister.  And there are times when we all struggle with ministering to others.   It might not come naturally to us, or we might not feel like it at the time.  Sometimes – it is for a really good reason…like the death of a friend.

Jesus had something just like this happen to Him in Matthew 14.

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.

Jesus then did what I would do – He went away to be alone in His grief.  But He did not get to be alone for long!

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

hedgehogHere is where Jesus differs in His actions from what I would want to do in that situation.  When I am hurting, I want to crawl into bed, curl up in a ball, and forget the world around me…for a long time.  I do not want to think about others; I just want to focus on my own grief.

While I think it is healthy for us to step away and “deal” with our grief (whatever that means!), I realize that the world continues to go on in the midst of our suffering.  Others continue to suffer. And – though we are not Jesus – we are called to respond to that suffering.

Though Jesus shows us that stepping away momentarily is good for us, He also shows us that we cannot stay out of the action for long.  God chooses to act through us, and He cannot do that if we are curled up in a ball on our bed.

As Jesus ministered to those who needed Him, His disciples showed up and helped out.  We need to remember that we are not alone in our grief and that we are not alone in our ministering.  Jesus had 12 disciples who helped Him to minister…we need to do the same!

How does this resonate with you?  How have you seen it in action?  Any insights to share with the rest of us?


photo credit: iambents via photopin cc