In this world we often suffer the pain of separation from loved ones. No one is exempt from this pain.
We recently read an article telling about the mourning of Queen Victoria when her husband Prince Albert died. Her sorrow was such that she did not appear in public for three years. As queen she did not lack for comforts nor for work to occupy her mind. As the mother of nine children she was not without companionship. But the one thing she most valued had been taken from her. The one person she most wanted at her side was missing.
Queen Victoria’s experience was neither unique nor unusual. Widows and widowers in every time, place, and social class have felt the pain of losing the one person they most loved, the one upon whom they most depended. Such losses cannot be avoided in this world where death has intruded.
On the night of His betrayal Jesus prepared His disciples for the loss that they were about to experience. He would soon be taken from them to be put on trial and then to be put to death by crucifixion. With their beloved Master taken from them they would feel like orphans.
But they should not be overwhelmed by sorrow or fall into despair, as though the Lord had deserted them. “Let not your heart be troubled,” He said, “neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). Jesus would go to the cross and grave. He would also rise from the dead and ascend into heaven, and they would see Him no more. But from His exalted place at the Father’s right hand He would send from the Father another Helper, the Holy Spirit. This Helper, unlike all human helpers, would be with them forever (Jn. 14:16).
He Lives Within
The same Holy Spirit has been given to us. He was poured out on us in our baptism–shed on us abundantly in the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5-6). He lives within us, making us His temples (1 Cor. 3:16). He whom we confess in the Nicene Creed as “the Lord and Giver of Life” gives us life by teaching and enabling us to believe in Jesus Christ, so that we have the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from death that Jesus purchased for us by His blood.
The Spirit comforts us with the gospel. He consoles us while we yet live in this world where our lives are continually touched by sin and sorrow. He assures us of our standing before God–that through Christ we are His children and heirs (Rom. 8:16-17). He enables us to pray even when we cannot find the words (Rom. 8:26-27).
How reassuring to know that this Helper on whom we depend will not leave us. He will continue to do His work in us by means of the gospel in Word and sacrament, strengthening and keeping us in faith.
Let us be careful not to grieve the Spirit by sinning. Other helpers–spouse, children, parents, friends–will leave us, and their departure will cause us pain and sorrow. But the Holy Spirit, the Helper whom Christ has sent, will never leave us. He will be with us to the end to bring us safely to eternal life.
–Pastor John Klatt