Learning To Say Goodbye
Romans 14:8 (Berean Study Bible)
8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Several months ago, I lost a very dear friend to a long-standing battle with oxygen deprivation. I came to visit her for the last time in her Florida home, which was a place I had made many memories in as a child. When she came to the door, I barely recognized her. Her illness had completely changed her, and it was immediately evident that she would not have much longer to live. Immediately I felt tears fill my eyes. This was supposed to be a visit, not a farewell. In those short four hours, I ate food with her from her favorite restaurant, pet the greater portion of her many cats, and talked about the future. I’m sure she could see the tears in my eyes. At the end of the night, she walked me to the door and wished me well in my future endeavors. Instead of saying goodbye, I adamantly informed her that I would see her again soon, and I would write often. Less than one month later, I received a half-written reply to my final piece of correspondence, sent by a loving family member. My friend had gone peacefully to be with the Lord.
Saying goodbye is hard. For those of us who have experienced this firsthand, it can be even more difficult to address in the future. Goodbyes come in many forms as well. The loss of a loved one, friends moving to new places, painful divorces, and other situations seem to tear our hearts in two.
The Bible tells us that goodbye is not forever. In fact, our final destination lies in one of two places: with God, or without Him. Still, from our shallow points of view, saying goodbye feels like something dreadfully final.
The final conversation between David and his friend Johnathan offers an excellent example of saying goodbye. In 1 Samuel 20:42, the departing Johnathan conferred, ““Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’”
Saying goodbye is not a thing that can be processed overnight, or an event that eventually hurts less. Instead, it is a memory that will likely stay with you forever. How can we say goodbye well, in both Biblical and emotional soundness?
Be strong in the Lord. Seek His wisdom through the Bible, and through your daily quiet times with Him.
Seek peace in fellowship. Find friends in which you can rely, and place your sorrows with. Understand that only God can take your burdens at the foot of the Cross.
Pray often. The Lord hears your cries, and wants to use His power to ease your sorrow. Confide your goodbyes in Him.
There is no way we can truly avoid saying goodbye, even living as a Christian. Mortal beings will always need to say ‘farewell’ in the flesh until the day they are reunited with Christ in their new, eternal lives. Goodbye is inevitable. But you know what? So is God! Trust in Him today to make and take all your goodbyes; then, now, and always.
What kinds of loss have you had to say goodbye to? Are there upcoming events or people in your life that will be leaving, either physically or emotionally? How can you encourage others to say goodbye? While losing a loved one is never easy, it can be softened by the love that Christ has for us, both in this life and the next. Let us rejoice in His love forever!
John 11:25-26 (New English Standard Version)
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (Berean Study Bible)
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.