GET OUT OF THE BOAT
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:13-14
If you have ever experienced a great loss, you are not alone. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, experienced a great loss when John the Baptist was killed by Herod. After the disciples shared the news with him, Jesus did what many of us do when we experience loss. He went to a place by himself to grieve for his friend. It is not likely you would be found in a boat, but your place of grieving might be your house or a room in your house. Jesus shows us that it is good to grieve alone for a period of time but not forever.
Jesus did not stay in his place of grieving. After a period of time, he rowed back to shore and acknowledged the people who had followed him there. The word reads that, “he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Jesus, after a period of time of grieving alone, left his boat and came before people. It is not known how long Jesus stayed in the boat but it was long enough for people to come from towns on foot into a remote area to gather. With that considered, it is likely he was in the boat for a good period of time. The Bible does not tell us specifically how long which might lead one to believe that the length of time grieving alone does not matter as much as being sure you do not remain there. After a period of time being alone, it is good for a grieving person to come out of their house or their room to acknowledge people who have come to be with them during their time of loss. The Lord, during times of great loss, will send many people to surround a grieving person to comfort and encourage them. Acknowledging people may not be easy and it may not be something a grieving person desires to do but it is good for them to do it. And for those of us who know of a grieving person, it is good to surround them with love and support but understand that they may not acknowledge you at first if they still need time to grieve alone. As we know, the time of grieving alone is unspecified. Grieving is a process and the length of time needed for each person is different. Patience and lovingkindness from friends and family is what is needed most during the time a person is grieving alone. It is easy to take offense and be hurt if they do not respond right away. But keep in mind and remember, the Lord never stops reaching out to us in our time of need so we should never stop reaching out to our grieving friends during their time of need.
After Jesus grieved alone and acknowledged the people, he returned back to his work and healed their sick. If Jesus would not have left the boat, he would have not have fulfilled his purpose. If Jesus would have not left his boat, consider all the people who would have not received their healing that day, now or in the days to come. Fulfilling your purpose is important to God and it is important to others.
As Jesus demonstrated, returning to work is important. I cannot imagine that in his time of grieving it was easy for Jesus to acknowledge people or return to work. I can only imagine how weary and tired he felt rowing back to shore. I can only imagine his physical and emotional exhaustion. But be encouraged, as we see through his story, the Father equipped him with the power and strength he needed to complete his work. The story goes on to read that Jesus returned to work and fed 5,000 men, women and children with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. You see, God’s power is perfected in weakness. His power will sustain and equip you to do the work. And as Paul wrote, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).” God will give you all the strength you need and more to return to work through His power. It is not impossible for a grieving person to return to work. All things are possible to those who believe.
And for those of us supporting a grieving friend, it is important to remember that returning to work does not mean they are fully healed and well. It does not mean that they have forgotten what they have lost. When a grieving person returns to work after a great loss, it means they are getting back to fulfilling their purpose and through that they and many others will be healed. It is important to see that Jesus, after he went back to work, did not stay in that same place forever. His work kept him moving forward which is important for a grieving person to do.
I am sad that Jesus lost his friend but I am happy for the good example of grieving that he gave us to follow. It is good encouragement for the grieving person as well as the people supporting them. This story of Jesus gives us three important stages of grieving, immediately following a great loss, that we can look to in order to examine how well a person is dealing with their loss. And remember that each stage is important but the time is unspecified.
Stage 1: Grieving alone.
Stage 2: Acknowledging people.
Stage 3: Returning to work.
If a person misses any of these stages, it should alert us that they may be in trouble. For example, if a person experiences a great loss and never grieves alone for any period of time. If a grieving person is alone but never begins to acknowledge people. If a grieving person takes time alone and acknowledges people but never returns to work. If seen, all these things should alert us that our friends may be in trouble.
It is good to keep a close watch over a grieving person and stay alert to what stage they are in and how long they remain there. It is good to surround a grieving person no matter what stage they are in so that we may be there when they are ready to receive love and comfort in their time of need. It is good to keep a close watch on a grieving person to make sure they are well, to love and comfort them and to encourage them. We never want to see our friends get in trouble. Grieving is a difficult process to endure but with the strength and power from God, help from Jesus and love and encouragement from our friends and family we can get through it better.
Shalom my friends