Week 24: The Power of Presence
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly to go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:28-35
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
Now, I know it’ll be a couple of weeks before you read or listen to this devotional, but I’m sitting on an airplane in Atlanta while I write this. I’m headed home from the funeral of Pastor Billy Britt, that’s Pastor Ryan Britt’s Father. His celebration of life service was one of the most incredible ministry events that I have ever witnessed.
Pastor Ryan Britt and his brother, Pastor Jason, led the service to honor their father and make much of Jesus. The reason that I, and about 20 other staff members and elders made the trip to Atlanta to be there for Pastor Britt is simple. You see, love shows up.
I spent the morning with Pastor Britt and his family. We prayed a little, we cried a little and we laughed a lot. I’m sure I didn’t say anything memorable or life changing. Mostly I just sat near my friend and brother in a time of sadness.
Showing up is most of ministry. The Bible lets us know that in this world we will face troubles of many kinds. The Bible also lets us know that we were called into community. That means that if you are serious about your faith and your faith family there will come a day when someone in the body will face pain and sorrow. And when that time comes, it will be time for you to step up and to step in.
Now, you may be tempted to think “Well, it’s easy for Pastor Joby to show up, he is a professional, but what would I do?” Honestly, all I know to do in those moments is to just show up.
Too many times Christians are preoccupied with what to say. In my experience, people in pain remember very little of what you say, unless it is hurtful or insensitive. But they DO remember your presence.
If you don’t know what to say in those moments maybe you could try this, “I love you.” That’s what you are really trying to communicate. This is called incarnational ministry. John 1 lets us know that Jesus did not try to love us from afar, but he moved into the neighborhood. He showed up. And we are called to love others the way Jesus has loved us.
In John 11, we see Jesus showing up, albeit late, to comfort his friends. Did you catch in the text what Jesus did? At the tomb of Jesus’s friend surrounded by a sorrowful family, Jesus wept.
Now knowing how this event unfolds confused me for many years. Why would Jesus cry with this crying family if He knows that this same day His friend would be brought back to life?
I think the answer is empathy. You see, empathy is when we feel with and for those who are hurting or broken. Jesus demonstrates for us in John 11 what Paul commands in Romans 12, “weep with those who weep.”
Before you try to fix something painful in someone’s life, maybe first you need to fit yourself into what they are feeling. This is what Jesus does with the family of Lazarus. Today, I showed up to simply serve the Britt family in any way I could. I don’t think I did anything extraordinary, but God did an extraordinary work in me. Being near my friend in a time of need brought me nearer to Jesus.
The power of presence is not just for the person that you show up for, but God uses you showing up to DEEPEN your relationship with Him. So the next time you have the opportunity to simply show up for someone in need, may it be a reminder that Jesus showed up for you.