Matthew 14:1-21; Leviticus 20-21; Proverbs 30
When I was in college I had a good friend who was caught up in sin. He told me what was going on before I could have guessed it. He asked for prayer to help escape his addiction. He never escaped. Later, a mutual friend saw me and told me that he had been killed: murdered because of actions related to his sin. I cried. My (then) fiancée (now my wife) sought to comfort me. I just needed to be alone.
Sometimes we just need to be alone. When John the Baptist was gruesomely murdered his disciples went to tell Jesus. He didn’t tell them “Be brave. We know that he’s in a better place.” “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.” Jesus knew that He needed some time alone on hearing this news. Was He grieving over the death of John? Was He grieving over the sinfulness of man that would cause this horrendous death? Did the death of John remind Him of His own death that He knew was coming? We don’t know, although, as my pastor says, I’ll be able to tell you in 150 years. What we do know is that in dealing with His emotions, Jesus took time to be alone. Sometimes we need to be alone during difficult times. Jesus had to go out on the lake to get His alone time and still had thousands of people looking for Him. When He got back to shore, people were waiting. Jesus healed their sick, fed them with His teachings, and then He fed 5000 men plus women and children. Even after we take time off for grief, the ministry continues and we need to be ready to keep serving God.
It isn’t wrong to grieve. It’s even ok not to use words of comfort that don’t really give solace. It is ok to get off by ourselves so that we can deal with our grief by seeking God without interruption. That being said, there’s a time to get back into the world and minister to a world that needs to know the love of God. Sometimes that happens while we are still hurting. Sometimes, the act of ministry to others is the best way to deal with our grief. God is still in charge. God still loves His children.