“And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20 (NIV)
To be alone in the face of a challenging task can be unsettling. To feel alone in the midst of a difficult experience can be frightening. At times, these can be part of ministry. Opportunities in new areas can often feel overwhelming and lonely. This is not unique to those working in ministry; life experiences, such as tragic deaths, family break-up, loss of a job, or struggling with mental health, elicit strong negative feelings and make us feel very alone with our pain, espeically when we believe we have no one to talk to about it.
Shortly before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave his disciples what we have come to know in our Christian community as “The Great Commission.” It is the instruction to go and disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit; and to teach what they had been taught. Jesus closes with, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20) Since then, we have come to understand this commission as one of the main tenets of our faith: to evangelize.
Jesus knew there would be challenges in ministry, as well as in life. He knew that we would need assurance when facing these challenges. He reminds us “I am with you,” not every once in a while but always! Abandonment or neglect as a child, reinforced by later life experiences, like those in many Native families, makes this a hard concept to understand. Many find it hard to believe that Jesus is, and will be, with them in life’s challenging experiences when they have never known that type of love or devotion.
As we continue to praise and worship our risen Savior, let us reflect on the truth that we are never alone in the tasks that God has given us! Jesus is with us at all times, even to the end of time. That is one of the last promises Jesus gave us just before His Ascension and one we can cling to always.
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you help us in a new way to begin to understand this promise and to speak it to others. You know best what we need, whether it is healing or growth, help us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Linda Martin (Cree)