The Upper Room devotional reflection for Saturday, May 16th comes to us from Torrey Curtis of Oklahoma
Matthew 5:1-12 NRSV 1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
In July 2012, my wife Joyce died suddenly within 48 hours after shepherding me back home to Oklahoma after emergency surgery in Florida to save my leg. I was bereft. Not only was Joyce my best friend, my wife of 35 years, and the mother of our two children; she was my partner in ministry and a multitalented musician and university teacher with a radiant personality. Two blessings were critical for me in her loss. First, a conviction that Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” There were many days — especially in the first two years — when I would weep and scream in the pain of that loss. The scream was not “Why?” just “It hurts.” The second blessing came the day after Joyce’s death as I heard the Holy Spirit ask me this question: “If you could swap your years with Joyce and not have this pain, would you do it?” My immediate answer was, “Absolutely not.” Now the pain has dulled and is far less frequent. Every day I have continued to give thanks for Joyce — the life and love we shared, and the family God entrusted to us.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for your presence and guidance through scripture and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
– Torrey Curtis
The loss of a loved one is difficult, to say the least. It reminds us of the finite nature of life and of our own mortality. All of us have felt the sting of loss and the sorrow of grief. Each of us recognizes that there isn’t a timetable for when the sadness will end, nor a quick fix for the pain we experience. Yet, as our current plight has demonstrated, we grieve not only the loss of loved one, but the loss of treasured routines and activities.
As the order to shelter-in-place continues and the opportunity for a vaccine to be developed quickly wains, we find sorrow creeping up threatening to overwhelm us. Yet, in this moment, the presence of God is with us offering us comfort and assurance. Although we cannot see when the end may come, we know God is working. Although we grieve being unable to physically visit with family and friends, God comforts us through the use of zoom and skype. It’s okay to grieve and be saddened, but do not allow your grief to grow into despair. God is with us and will continue to see us through this challenge.