“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.” – John 16:7
Libby and Ross had moved into the same Dallas neighborhood around the same time we did, and it did not take long for our paths to cross. Their daughter Julie and our younger son Marc attended the same middle school back then, participated in band, and were involved in the same youth group at the church we all attended. Tee and Libby soon became carpool buddies and active volunteers at the school and church, even joined the same neighborhood book club. Quickly enough Ross and I got drawn into the relationship and became friends as well, after which we began to hang out together as couples. Then unexpectedly Libby and Ross announced to us over dinner one evening that they were moving away, for business reasons, to North Carolina. We were crushed.
It is not unusual in today’s mobile society for time and distance to cause friendships such as ours to gradually drift, not that we intend that to happen, it just does. Realizing that we decided that before parting ways we should go away together for one last fling over a long weekend. That was 1992, and little did we know then how that trip would bond us for life; for instead of waning, our friendship grew deeper and stronger and closer despite the geographical distance. Turns out we discovered what amazing travel companions we were with common interests, similar tastes in food and restaurants, and comparable travel budgets. Since then, over the years we have taken many fabulous trips together, each one strengthening our bond of friendship.
“It is for your good that I am going away.” We get it now, but none of us could have possibly imagined that back in 1992. Then this past week our dear friend Libby moved away again, this time after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Upon receiving that news we were once again crushed, struggling through our grief to understand how it is for our good that she went away.
Surely Jesus’ devoted followers, through their grief, must have suffered the same agonizing question on Good Friday two thousand years ago . . . that is, until Easter morning arrived revealing an empty tomb. Only then do the words start to make sense. And therein lies our hope – for Libby, for ourselves in grieving her loss, and for the future. For today the Lord is risen! And thanks be to God, therefore so is Libby.