Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, December 1, Evening

By Beth Cooper-Libby


Read Matthew 14:13

“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.”

Long ago in rural Western Pennsylvania, a little girl was in the car with her mother heading toward ballet class. The little girl was in first grade and new to the area. She did not have any friends yet but that was about to change, because as they were heading down a twisty country road, her mother hit a dog. Both were horrified, and the little girl’s mother approached the closest house and knocked on the door, frantic to find help. When that door opened, out came six children, three boys and three girls. In fact, one of those children, named Stephen, became her very best friend. I don’t mean “best” friends as in someone who will tell if those pants make your bottom look big. I mean best friends; my go-to when life got tough: high school bullies, breakups, financial troubles, school problems, job problems, illnesses, deaths and anything else that came at me. For most of our lives, we were never more than 20 minutes apart. That kind of best friend. That was until he died this year.

Aristotle described deep friendship saying, “What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies.” I am glad he did describe it, because when a friend dies often those around you do not give you the same support and validation that they would have had it been a family member. I found that most people, while well-meaning, are uncomfortable with your grief. They do not know what to say or how to say it. I heard it all, “do not avoid the pain, remember you aren’t alone, remember all your great memories. There is a reason for everything” … blah, blah, blah. This feels like you’re trying to grab on to something so you don’t fall. However, everything you grab is either broken or slippery. The grief is painful and nobody understands.

Jesus lost his best friend too. When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, he wept. Even though he knew Lazarus was dying and he would raise Lazarus back to life, he was so overcome with emotion that he began to cry. Jesus not only lost his good friend Lazarus to death, he also lost his dear friend and cousin, John the Baptist. When Jesus heard the news about John, he got on a boat and headed to a desolate place. I know why he did that. Jesus was grieving. Jesus understands.


God, you will never abandon us during our times of grief; you will always provide us understanding and hope. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Amen.

This devotion was written in loving memory of Stephen Martinak. 

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