“And when he had thus spoken, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.”
We know it’s inevitable unless the Lord Jesus comes back first, but it’s the joy of seeing them again that enables us to go on by faith.
“Sorrowing because they’d see his face no more.”
Life is all about relationships. Family relationships. Fraternal relationships. Kindred spirits. Sweet fellowship. Give-and-take. Shared joys and sorrows.
But, we know that these are limited at best and short-lived regardless of how long they last.
That’s why it’s important for us to live by faith, not sight—for the time will come when we say “Goodbye” to every person we know; yet, this should not cause us to “weep as those who have no hope” (I Thess. 4:13), especially that loved one knew Jesus as his/her Savior and when He said He would “turn our sorrow into joy” (Jn. 16:20). Hallelujah!!
Yes, dear Pilgrim, in Christ there is no death; there’s only separation (Jn. 11:25-26). Glory!!
And, like Paul and the dear Ephesians elders meeting together before Paul’s departure by ship (Acts 20:13-35), there are still tears and sorrow when it looks like we’ll “see each other’s face no more.” We don’t want to let go. We don’t want to say “Goodbye.” We don’t want to part paths. We want to keep staying together and enjoying the fragrance of our fellowship.
But, there’ll come a time when the Glory Train’s whistle will blow and the Conductor will say “All aboard!” Like Paul’s ship setting sail, so must we all one-by-one bid adieu to our loved ones here, crying “See you later” as we weigh anchor and cross the Vale.
Thankfully, in Christ, we know exactly where the Good Ship Glory is headed when Jesus, the “Captain of our salvation” (Heb. 2:10), is at the helm. As we depart, those on the pier begin waving goodbye. . .tears streaming down their faces. . .crying, “There she goes, there she goes. She’s gone” as the ship vanishes from view beyond the horizon.
But, soon those on the other Shore, who joyfully await our arrival and keep a watchful eye, suddenly spy a tiny dot on Heaven’s horizon. And, soon they shout “There she comes, there she comes. She’s here!!”
Isn’t this a wonderful thought, dear Saint of God? Isn’t this a blessed Hope like a “sure-and-steadfast Anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19)?
Most assuredly it is.
That’s why we should always view the death of a loved one or friend who knows Christ as temporal, not eternal. Prior to His crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus told His closest disciples (and us) that “in this life you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer—for I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). May the Holy Spirit help us to remember this day, especially during times of “sorrowful separation.” There may be tears now; but one of these days those tears will cease because “Joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5b). Thank You, Lord.
September 6, 2011