“Jesus is always with us, He never abandons us.”
The loss of a loved one can cause us seemingly endless grief. But Jesus is always with us, He never abandons us.
A Missionary’s Story
John Gibson Paton was a Christian missionary in the 19th century. In 1858 Paton and his wife arrived on the island of Tanna in the South Pacific. He brought education to the natives and taught them about Christianity. He helped them to form small industries such as hat making to take advantage of the influx of English and French colonists and advocated against slavery.
But his early days on the island were days of grief and loss.
Upon their arrival, John and his wife, Mary, built a small house at Port Resolution. In those days the natives were cannibals and the missionary couple found themselves surrounded by “painted savages who were enveloped in the superstitions and cruelties of heathenism at its worst.”
Three months after their arrival, Mary bore a son, Peter Robert Robson. But only 19 days later Mary died from tropical fever. Seventeen days after that, young Peter followed his mother. John buried his wife and son together, near their house on Resolution Bay. He spent his nights sleeping on their grave to protect them from the local cannibals.
Still, Paton continued his missionary work, even though he was constantly in danger from the natives who resented his presence on the island. The grief he felt over the loss of his wife and son consumed him. Surrounded by natives who showed him no sympathy, he felt terribly alone. But his faith helped him through the darkness. He wrote, “Let those who have ever passed through any similar darkness as of midnight, feel for me. As for all other, it would be more than vain to try to paint my sorrows… But for Jesus, and His fellowship… I would have gone mad and died.”
The shortest verse in the bible is “Jesus wept.” Jesus wept over the loss of His friend Lazarus and how that loss affected Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because the people would not accept the love He offered them.
When Jesus weeps it is perhaps then that we are closest to His human nature. We can relate to sorrow and pain. We weep over being separated from a loved one, either because they have been taken from us or because by their actions they have abandoned us.
The Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday. We prepare ourselves to move closer to our Lord. We do this by fasting and prayer and ridding ourselves of the distractions that separate us from God. We do not do these things for their own sake or even for our own self-improvement. We do these things out of love for the Lord. These actions we take up during Lent are all oriented toward allowing us to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Let us remember the image of Christ weeping as we enter into this time of atonement. Jesus weeps for us. He weeps because more often then not we have turned away from Him or left Him. He weeps because the great love He pours out for us is not returned. He weeps over our sins.
Let us use this time to make Jesus the center of our lives, if not for His sake, then for our own.
1st Sunday of Lent
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© Lawrence Klimecki
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Deacon Lawrence draws on ancient Christian tradition to create new contemporary art that seeks to connect the physical and the spiritual.. For more information on original art, prints and commissions, Please visit www.DeaconLawrence.org
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith