Surrounded by love. That is how I would describe these last few months.
Months filled with disappointment, sadness, frustration, questions and pain. When I look back on them I would NOT want to walk through them again. Yet, the way Jesus has met me, loved me and ministered to my heart is irreplaceable.
As many of you know, I recently lost one of my best friends to cancer. In the final year of John's life I began to meet with him on a regular basis and became overwhelmed by his love for me, for others and for God.
He was moving towards death so well. He called it his "new beginning". I asked him if he had any sadness or fear. I will never forget his response.
"I get sad when I think about not being here with you and my friends when I die, to comfort and walk with you through your grief and pain." He continued, "Love always wants to be present when those you love are suffering. I wish I could be present with you, Ant, because I know you will be hurting when I die."
Surrounded by love. That is how John made me feel when I met with him. And his voice will be dearly missed because there was no one who spoke into my life and encouraged me like him.
But having experienced his death now, it has been Jesus and his love for me, through the Holy Spirit, that has comforted me.
It was the Holy Spirit that was speaking through John when he was here. It's the Holy Spirit that will continue to speak to me and encourage me in his absence.
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:4–7 (ESV)
When Jesus was with the disciples, He was the one who led them and encouraged them to love like He loved and live like He lived. But when He went to be with the Father, it was the Holy Spirit that empowered them, encouraged them and showed them how to continue to live and love others like Jesus did.
That has been my experience these past few months. John has gone to be with Jesus, but Jesus continues to speak to me and encourage me through the Holy Spirit. I have had very powerful and emotional encounters of God's love for me and they have all come through the Holy Spirit.
Don't shortchange the work of the Holy Spirit to only times of powerful manifestations, miracles and physical healing (even though those are awesome and good things).
He is also our daily encourager, comforter, and peace giver. He is the one who teaches and guides us as we navigate our way through life in everyday circumstances. He is the one who gives us rest. He is the one who helps us worship, pray and understand Scripture.
Here are a few verses to encourage us in this direction:
The Holy Spirit is Our Teacher
"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14:25-26
"…for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." Luke 12:12
The Holy Spirit Intercedes for Us
"And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Romans 8:26
The Holy Spirit Leads Us
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Matthew 4:1
The Holy Spirit Gives Life to Us
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." John 6:63
The Holy Spirit Strengthens and Encourages Us
"Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord." Acts 9:31
The Holy Spirit Convicts Us
"And when he comes, (the Holy Spirit) he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11
The Holy Spirit Comforts Us
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever." John 14:16
"If we are going to live the life that God has called us to, we need to live lives filled and empowered by the Spirit."
I have said that many times. But I am learning through trials and suffering that if I am going to survive the pain, struggles and suffering that this world will bring, I need to be filled, encouraged and comforted by the Holy Spirit everyday, all the time.
How about you??