Memorial Day. While traditionally a day set aside to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country serving in the Armed Forces, it has also become a day for many to remember loved ones and friends lost in the past. Over the next couple of days, we will remember special people—a loved one, a neighbor, a friend whose death seems unfair, untimely, even unnecessary. We’ve all experienced those losses. We struggle sometimes to find meaning to it all—a “reason” for their death.
In this morning’s Gospel lesson from John, we read the account of Jesus washing the feet of His followers. Peter struggled with the “right-ness” of His Master performing such a menial task. Someone else should have performed this service—a slave of the household or even one of the disciples—but not the Teacher.
Jesus responded to Peter’s protest with a simple statement: You do not realize now what I am doing, but later, you will understand. In his brief statement, there are two important lessons we need to hear and claim for our own—even holding on to them with both hands during our own times of sorrow and heartache.
We will not always understand…now.
God has never promised that we will know the reason behind our sorrow and loss. Although He often does reveal His reasons and the secret workings of His ways to us at some point in time, it is possible that we will never know—this side of the grave—why a beloved friend or family member had to leave this earth.
God did not promise that this life would be a piece of cake! In fact, He promised just the opposite. Jesus told His followers, Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. (John 16:33). That is one of God’s promises that we would just as soon NOT come true. But all to often it does—and we are confronted by disappointment, tragedy, trial, turmoil and heartache. We demand answers and want to know WHY! We are left with an empty feeling that may even convince us that God is deaf to our please—indifferent to our pain.
Nothing could be further from the truth. God is aware of our hurt and confusion and misunderstanding. It’s just that sometimes WE are the ones who don’t—and even can’t—understand right now. We just not ready to hear, able to accept that there is something better planned for us because of this. We are so focused on our loss that we cannot see or hear or feel anything else. This is totally normal!! And that is the first lesson this seventh verse from the thirteenth chapter of John would teach us.
Someday We Will Understand
The second lesson we need to hold onto is this—someday, we will understand. That’s the second part of this verse. While we may not always understand right now the “Why?” and the How come?”, the day will come when it will all be crystal clear. Like God’s Word says in 1 Corinthians 13:12.
You may be still grieving the loss of a “special treasure”. You may still be searching for answers through the hurt. God, your Heavenly Father, understands the pain. But He has already purchased a special gift just for you. What it is and when you will receive it is your Father’s decision. All I know is that it will bring a new joy and peace and fulfillment.
As Jesus prepared to face the cross, He tried to prepare His followers as well. Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many room; if it were not so, I would have told you. I’m going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me. )John 14:1-4) God has something even better planned than this present pain and sorrow. HE PROMISED! And you can always trust God to keep his promises.
Today—this weekend, we will remember and mourn the loss of loved ones, friends, co-workers and neighbors. We may not understand right now what God is doing (or why), but someday, He will make it plain. He has promised.