Read: Matthew 14
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. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14)
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:23)
Jesus had just received word from John the Baptist’s disciples that their rabbi, Jesus’ relative, had died, having been murdered by Herod to please his dinner guests. Jesus’ heart must have ached as he mourned the first Christian martyr. Then with each sick person he healed, Jesus must have been confronted by the fact that he could not heal John B. – but also been sure of his heavenly Father’s plan for John B.’s ultimate redemption.
Jesus’ response to his grief was to withdraw on his own to pray. When his solitary time in prayer was interrupted, Jesus got back to it as soon as possible.
This has not always been my response to sadness. Sometimes my response has been quite the opposite – to assume my sad situation is evidence that God is mad at me and doesn’t want to hear from me.
But during the months when my 10-year-old niece was dying of a brain tumour, my solitary morning Bible & prayer walks sustained me by reminding me that God cared about my niece and he cared about me. I clung to God in that time and I will never forget how he responded so clearly in my daily Scripture readings to my tearful prayers.
Solitary prayer helps heal a grieving heart.
LORD God Almighty,
You are indeed Almighty – the LORD both strong and mighty. You are able to do so much more than I could ask or imagine.
I know that some people believe that the existence of suffering in the world proves that you cannot be both loving and all-powerful. But I believe that the existence of suffering instead means that you have a plan for its use. I need to trust in your loving-kindness, in your strength and might, to solve my problems according to your plan.
May you be glorified in my suffering and in all of my life. Thank you for your precious encouragement to me as I cried out to you during the last months of Lisa’s earthly life.
Thank you for the bold example of John the Baptist, whose godly moral stance led to his martyrdom. Thank you for Jesus, who was also killed unjustly, he whose death achieved salvation and heavenly blessing for me and for all who believe in him.