Close Encounters: Dec. 13, Third Tuesday of Advent

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”  ~ Ps 34:19  

What leaves us more brokenhearted than losing someone we love? In the face of such loss we are disoriented, speechless, wounded by a million shards of pain. Death changes life, changes it utterly; when the beloved is gone, things are never the same again. We may feel that God has walked out on us; we may be angry, insisting that if He had really loved us this awful thing would not have happened. The psalmist clearly knew this kind of pain—the Hebrew words for “broken-hearted” and “crushed in spirit” carry the force of being shattered and pulverized. But the psalmist also knew this: that God does not forsake us in times of searing, terrible hurt.

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Our Lord not only loves us, he is close to us—again, the Hebrew is instructive, as the word for “close” is associated with the inward parts of a human being. Amid the pain and suffering, God remains present in our hearts. No matter how much we wail and shake our fists, He will abide with us. We do not walk through the valley of the shadow of death alone; He is there to comfort us as we trudge through the darkness, leading us on even when we cannot imagine that there could ever be light again.

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At such times, prayer is a challenge. Tears come readily; words do not. No matter: even when we are so numb that we cannot feel His presence, God is surrounding us with love, wiping away our tears, binding up our wounds. And ever so gently, ever so gradually, He will soothe death’s sting with the saving promise of eternal life.

RELATED: Read all of our Advent reflections for 2016

Lord of heaven and earth, Stay by my side as I journey through times of loss and pain, and grant me the healing comfort of your presence.  Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

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