By Kolleen Lucariello
Pat and I had begun packing our belongings when I noticed our granddaughter, Emery’s eyes held puddles that she was wrestling to contain. I braced myself for another difficult goodbye. When will these goodbyes become easier, Lord? I pondered as we began our journey back north after a few weeks visiting with each of our kids. This is the sacrifice of a goodbye. The words hit my heart. The sacrifice of a goodbye. They also lingered as I contemplated the sacrifices that were attached to some of my goodbyes and how God met me in them.
It was almost thirty-two years ago when our family experienced the shock of unexpected loss when our brother-in-law was killed in a car accident. I didn’t realize in that moment that on the other side of the extreme pain of grief God would draw me into a personal relationship with Jesus.
This sacrifice of a goodbye made me aware of God’s closeness when my question of, “where was God?” was answered when the Pastor delivering the message said, “some of you (yes, that was me) are asking, ‘Where was God when Brad died?’ God wants me to tell you He was in the same place when Brad died that He was when his own Son, Jesus died.” The moment is forever etched in my memory as I discovered God is present when we experience the sacrifice of a goodbye.
Years later, when we lost our friend Donnie in a car accident the unexpected pain of his loss was immense. Though this sacrifice of a goodbye felt like a sucker-punch to my soul, the faith I’d gained through the years caused me to ask a different question. Rather than “Where were you, God?” the question became, “Where are you working this together for good, God?” Because by this time I understood from Romans 8:28 that God does indeed work all things together for the good of those who love Him. I’d witnessed his handiwork and believed God never stops working when we must encounter the sacrifice of a goodbye.
I’d like to say that my maturity as a believer has been cultivated to the extent that the sacrifice of a goodbye no longer provokes me to ask God to justify Himself. However, that, my friend, would be a lie. Yes, I still believe God is always present and He works all things together for good. Yet, the sacrifice of so many difficult goodbyes create moments when I lament, “Why is this required of me?”
Then I recall when Jesus embraced his own sacrifice of a goodbye and acknowledge that God always has a greater purpose in mind when he requires the sacrifice of a goodbye.
Jesus is proof. The sacrifices he would make as he began the journey to the cross would require his goodbye to his family and friends. The lonely night in the Garden. The weight of the cross beam upon his shoulders. The heaviness of my sin. The sacrifice of his goodbye resembled complete trust and obedience to the Father among people who could not understand God’s greater purpose.
Like Jesus, I must carry my cross and upon that cross I must put to death much of self. So I offer that which is precious to me as an offering to the One my heart longs to be like.
Goodbye ungodly attitudes.
Goodbye untrusting nature.
Goodbye old identity.
Goodbye unhealthy emotions.
Why is this required of me? Because – Jesus. He understands the sorrow that intermingles with the hope and anticipation of the next opportunity to visit. He also knows with every hello there will always be the sacrifice of another goodbye and how could I offer to him that which costs me nothing? (1 Chronicles 21:24).
Whom have you found God to be in the midst of your own sacrifice of a goodbye?