Note: On Tuesdays and some Sundays, you can find me at Your Daily Tripod, owned by my friend TonyD. A longer version of the post below appears there.
It is a frustrating, agonizing, humbling experience to see family and friends suffer—physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually—and to know there’s not a whole lot we can do to change the situation. We can pray. We can listen. We can provide money or a listening ear or transportation to medical appointments. We can make casseroles, deliver groceries, recommend books or send funny pictures. But none of that changes anything long term. Where they are going, we cannot follow, not right away, not at the same time. The change, the relief, the resolution that is ultimately experienced is between our loved one and the Lord, and typically involves some obedience and surrender.
Consider Peter’s concern in today’s Gospel reading:
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” (John 13:36, NRSVCE)
Why doesn’t Jesus understand, Peter must have wondered. Jesus was Peter’s friend, mentor, spiritual adviser, inspiration. How could he possibly be going somewhere that Peter couldn’t? It’s the same way we chafe against diagnoses that run counter to what we want for those we love. Why can’t things just stay the way they are? Why do people have to die, move away or have their mobility limited due to illness and other factors? Why do they have to go?
These all are questions we’ve undoubtedly asked in hundreds or thousands of situations. For the answer, we need only look to the Cross, and to the surrender of both Jesus and His mother. The Lord’s call often is difficult, even more so when He calls those we love to go with Him on a journey where our companionship is limited. And so we pray for strength and faith for them, and acceptance and faith for ourselves. We have what we need for the wait.