June 13, 2018
My Happy Sorrow
“See how he loved him” John 11:36
I have often thought to myself at funerals how blessed were the departed loved ones that people should shed such tears over their departure. That he or she lived and loved in such a way that great sorrow would be shown is a sign of how much happiness that person brought into the lives of those who mourn. (We don’t grieve the loss of unhappiness.) This observation was made by those present at the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. In the shortest verse of the Bible we learn that “Jesus wept.” (v.35) How much he must have loved his friend to show such sorrow at his death.
While leaving Faith and Texas brings me sorrow, it is a happy sorrow. I grieve because there were such joys in ministry and the many relationships attached to it that will not continue in their present and personal form. Though we might disagree with the first part of this statement by WW II General George Patton, he offers a positive conclusion: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” I don’t think it’s wrong or foolish to grieve the ending of my ministry with you, but I certainly rejoice and thank God that we shared such a ministry at all. Another voice from the past, the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote about the departure of his good friend, ‘”Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Thus, our loss in leaving is a happy sorrow.
Though I will speak of some of those happy sorrows on my last day with you, I can’t close my final midweek meditation without mentioning the greatest joy of all: that we were partners in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with each other and with those outside the Church. It gives us, and always will give us, the greatest joy that Christ endured the momentary sorrow of the cross so that we may experience the eternal happiness of heaven with Him—and with one another! And it gives me great joy in my departure that you will continue faithfully in your ministry with your new shepherd. I share with you these words from the apostle Paul: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil.1:6). Amen.
Much love and grace to you all,