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Closure!

Apr 14/2020

Wade
Gardiner

As I reflect, a month into social distancing and our world-wide shutdown of normal life, one of the things that I am struck by is how little closure has existed for people during the last few weeks. That includes my own family, especially when it comes to relationships:

  • Our boys had an abrupt ending to their hockey season, right on the cusp of playoffs. Not only did they not experience their playoffs, but they also didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to their teammates, coaches and families.
  • How about school coming to a screeching halt? They were no longer able to see their friends and teachers.
  • For me, I think of not being able to say a proper goodbye and honour a staff member who left us at the end of March.
  • We have been cut off from gathering with so many of our family and friends – missing weddings, funerals, birthdays and other life events.
  • There was also the two-week vacation we were going to take in California that had to get scrapped.

A lot can happen in a month! This is just our family, and I know every family is being affected by this situation. What about those who have lost loved ones and are not able to provide the memorial services they wanted to. I think of the staff who faithfully serve in our long-term care facilities who have seen so many of those they care for pass away with no time to honour and remember them. There are so many young couples who have put their wedding plans on hold or reduced their dream weddings down to include only themselves and a few others. There are so many people with family in the hospital and they are not able to visit them or provide proper support to them like they normally would. There are many who have an ailing loved one and they are not able to travel to care for them or even say an in-person goodbye to them. There are also so many who have lost their jobs, and are separated from co-workers, their work and for many, a role in which they find much purpose.

We look for closure anytime there is something or someone of value and meaning that is removed from our lives. There is a piece inside of us that looks for reasons for why we are experiencing the loss. We want to find clarity in the confusion and answers to the unknown.

This is not unlike what the followers of Jesus were experiencing on the first Easter. I had to pause on one verse in Luke 23. It is right at the moment when Jesus cries out and commits His spirit to the Father and dies. Take a look at verse 49:

And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.” – Luke 23:49

First, we should pause for a moment and acknowledge that Jesus’ followers were practicing social distancing, but not for the same reasons we are. They practiced it because they feared the crowd that was reveling in the death of Jesus would turn on them. It wasn’t until the crowd had cleared that they were able to approach the cross and help in the burial process of Jesus.

As the followers of Jesus looked on from a distance as Jesus cried out His last breath, I can imagine they each felt a great torment inside. This man that they had been following, the Saviour of the world, had now suddenly died.

This man in whom they had found meaning, value, friendship and hope was suddenly removed from them and they didn’t understand what was next, regarding the resurrection. They didn’t have time to really say good-bye. They didn’t have time to say the things they had been holding onto that they were waiting for the right moment to say. They didn’t have closure. They were left searching for answers to try to explain the situation in which they found themselves.

Well, we know the ending to their story. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling many of the promises found in Scripture and fulfilling many of the things He said He would do. Jesus’ resurrection was the climax of His work here on earth and He overcame death, the ultimate grip of sin, and in doing so completed the salvation plan, laid out by his Father, for all of humanity. Shortly after this, Jesus would give His followers some instructions and then He would ascend to heaven. You can read about this in Luke 24 and Acts 1.

The thing is, we aren’t quite sure how this moment in history will end for us. But what we do know is that Jesus, the risen Jesus, is with us!

We know this because Scripture tells us:

Matthew 28:20

“… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is also a high level of comfort that we can cling to, during this time, because Jesus has also experienced many of the same feelings we are experiencing:

  • Jesus knew temptation:“He was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:13).
  • Jesus knew poverty:“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
  • Jesus knew frustration:“He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables … ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’” (John 2:15-16).
  • Jesus knew weariness:“Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well” (John 4:6).
  • Jesus knew disappointment:“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks, but you were not willing” (Luke 13:34).
  • Jesus knew rejection:“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66).
  • Jesus knew sorrow:“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38).
  • Jesus knew ridicule:“Again and again they struck him … and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid [mocking] homage to him” (Mark 15:19).
  • Jesus knew loneliness:“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

9 Verse to Remind You, Jesus Understands (Joanna Weaver)

The journey to find closure is not a smooth one. We all approach it differently. It doesn’t always make sense and often there is no neat and tidy answer. But we should still take moments to pursue it and we should help talk our kids through it. My experience, both past and present, has taught me that closure is best found in not trying to understand why things are the way they are, but instead pushing deeper into who Jesus is, what Jesus is about, how Jesus is able to transform me, finding my identity in Jesus and not the moment I find myself in, and also asking Jesus where He is and what He is doing in my life specifically during this time.

If you need help on this journey or have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Heartland Kids team at kids@heartlandalliance.ca. You can also send us your prayer requests by visiting the Heartland Kids Prayer page.

Take care,

Pastor Wade

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