Take Heart

“Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” (John 16:32)

No one understands isolation more than Jesus.

With all hell bearing down on him, he implored his closest friends to stay nearby. But they succumbed to sleep, leaving him abandoned on the ground in Gethsemane with anguish as companion.

On the night he was betrayed, he warned the twelve, “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone” (John 16:32). Shortly afterward, his prophetic words came true. Christ understood long before it transpired that his disciples would disappear when he desperately needed them

Yet in his very next statement to the twelve, Jesus lets us in on a delightful secret that is solace for us too: “Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me” (John 16:32b). Sheltered in place in our homes, with despair droning through every news feed, we can know with absolute certainty that our Lord has not and never will leave us on our own.

Our God is fully present, larger than all of life, right where we are. We might be cut off from others, but not from him. We are socially distanced, but he is in our homes, his hand on ours, his arms carrying our abnormal loads. He draws near to us in a crisis, not further away. We can rest our head on his capable shoulders, sit directly at his feet, listen as he pours tenderness into our heart. Jesus is the farthest thing from being far away.

Inside this hubbub, when we choose to turn off screens and tune out noise, he permeates the space with his loving presence. Immanuel is his name for right now – God with us! He is still the Good Shepherd leading and guiding through these circumstances. He is Living Water to refresh and cleanse us; he is Bread to fill and Peace to soothe our anxious hearts. More than ever, we must remember he is our Fortress to shelter in and the Rock we can hide behind.

All our appointments are cancelled, social engagements postponed, dinner parties non-existent. Yet he waits to be the honored guest in our homes, bringing his favor to gladden our souls. His grace is the garment we dress in to face whatever unfolds.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Elizabeth A. Mitchell

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