“Peace be with you.”
~ John 20:19
"I am never going to come home again, am I?"
I struggled to answer, but knew the truth was better than reaching for some easy response. "No," I said.
The woman had already undergone two years of treatment for cancer, and when her oncologist was out of options, she was told that there is "Nothing more we can do. You're going to die."
The first time I met the woman, she told me several things about her life, and about her illness and treatment. "I did everything they wanted me to do," she said about her treatment. "But when there was nothing left, I felt like I had been abandoned by my doctor. My doctor couldn't even look me in the face when she told me I was going to die. How does someone you've spent the last two years with, taking her advice, and living the way I have had to live, not look you in the face when she tells you that you are going to die?"
So when it came time this last week to move her from her home to a place where she could be better cared for, when she asked me, "Will I ever come back home," I needed to look her in the face and be honest.
None of us are the keepers of God's plan for any of us. Time and time again I am reminded of that very truth, but while we may struggle to live out that plan, we can be bearers of truth, but also peace, to those around us.
While Jesus shared of his leaving with those with him, he did not know all that God had planned. I think those around him, and even those of us reading these words today, struggled to understand how Jesus could not have known all that he would experience. Perhaps he did. Perhaps it was easier to look at those around him and simply say, "Peace be with you," while the world and circumstances raged around him.
It is the calming of the seas in the midst of the storm. It is the presence of the living Christ among his followers, and it is the words that we need to hear when we encounter our own struggles.
This morning the daughter of the woman I was with last week as we moved her from her home called to say that her mother died in the middle of the night last night, and shared, "She is at peace."
Peace be with you.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.