I’ve tried to not consume as much news coverage about the Pandemic over the past week. The numbers continue to rise, both for the total of people infected, and sadly as they account for lives lost to COVID-19. The numbers are sad, but I realized what was bothering me more than the numbers, was the stories of people who only seem to be concerned with their own situation. Thinking of myself first is not how I was raised.
In the passage from the Gospel of John I’ve included below, Jesus has just shared the Last Supper with the disciples, Judas has stormed out to finish making plans to betray Jesus, and in less than 24 hours, Jesus would be dead by way of crucifixion. Jesus knew exactly what was coming and instead of spending those remaining hours focused on his own situation, he did all he could to get his remaining eleven disciples ready to face the coming changes and to flourish in ministry after his death.
I know it perplexed my dad as to how a son he raised would become a pastor. I know he wondered how I could be a pastor since he had not raised me to be one. My dad only did what he could to prepare his children to be loving, caring, nurturing people who would one day do the same for their families. So much of what my dad did as he raised us was to put our needs ahead of his own. As it turns out, the lessons my dad taught about putting the needs of others first were exactly the ones I needed to learn to become a pastor, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a helpful member of society.
Will you commit to pray for the people who are at their wit’s end right now? Will you pray they can come to understand how the precautions they take are helping someone? Will you commit to pray people will come to understand putting the needs of others ahead of their own is not a display of weakness, but of strength? Will you pray for people to come to find the peace they can only find in Jesus?
[Jesus said,] “Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If it were not so,
would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
so that where I am, there you may be also.
And you know the way to the place where I am going.
I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me;
because I live, you also will live.
I have said these things to you while I am still with you.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything,
and remind you of all that I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”JOHN 14:1–4, 18–19, 25–27 (NRSV)