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Embracing the Grief of Parting

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Sorrowful Goodbyes

As the time approached for our move to Abu Dhabi, Jan and I experienced many sorrowful goodbyes.

We have shared hugs and prayer and tears with our kids, our parents, our church family, and our neighbors.

And our hearts have hurt.  We have grieved at the thought of being far from them.  We have felt sorrow.

So here is how we have thought about this —

Goodbyes in the Bible

We see many examples of sorrowful goodbyes in the Bible.  There is Paul with the church at Ephesus —

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. (Acts 20:36-38)

There is also David and Jonathan —

And they kissed one another, and wept with one another; David weeping the most. (1 Samuel 20:41)

 And then Elijah and Elisha —

And Elisha saw [Elijah departing] and he cried “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.  Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. (2 Kings 2:12)

So why do we feel sorrow at times of parting?

Parting Is such Sweet Sorrow

I think it was Romeo of Romeo and Juliet who said that parting was such sweet sorrow.  And it’s true.

Even though goodbyes are painful, the pain is sweet, because it shows how deeply the relationship has been marked by love.

And relationships marked by such love are merciful gifts from God.

That’s why, along with sorrowing and grieving, we thanked God that we had the kind of loving relationships which are so hard to leave.

How Love Feels

Just as joy is how love feels when friends and family come together, so sorrow is how love feels when friends and family part.

So as the time for our departure approached, Jan and I did not pull back from sadness.  We pressed into it.

We did not draw back from people, as if that would make the goodbyes less painful.  Instead, we intentionally pursued people.

And as we said our goodbyes, we did not squelch our sorrow.  Instead, we embraced and expressed our sorrow.

Because our sorrow and sadness expressed the love God had given us with our friends and family.

Content and Thankful

I write these words from Abu Dhabi, which is 8,000 miles from our friends and family in the US.

Even though we are far away, and even though there were sorrowful goodbyes, I am feeling thankful and content.

Thankful — because the grief of the goodbyes shows the precious love we have in the family and friends God has given us.

And content — because God is comforting the grief with fresh outpourings of his love — a love which surpasses all others.

Comments?  Questions?

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Category: Feeling Grief or Sorrow?


One Response

  1. The good part about going new places is that you have a chance to love new people. I’m glad God is making you feel content, and I hope He introduces you to many new wonderful people.

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