When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 14 : 13 – 14

Jesus, like many of us at times, needed to get away from the crowd when dealing with the death of a loved one. Jesus was grieving the horrific loss of John the Baptist not only his relation but also the one who had baptised him and, it is thought, his mentor during his formative years.

Solitude can be a helpful way to deal with pain privately, either in the quietness of the garden, up in the hills, in the countryside, walking along the beach or even finding quiet spaces in busy cities – places where we have all perhaps felt that little bit closer to God remembering the suffering of his son, our Saviour.

Jesus didn’t dwell on his grief but instead returned to his ministry of healing the sick and preaching the good news. How many of us have kept ourselves busy during a period of grief “keeping our mind off things” as people will say in support of us at our time of sorrow.

It’s now 24 years ago, but I remember clearly keeping myself busy following the death of my father by starting a new job and moving house in the weeks that followed. This busyness might have been seen as being a bit extreme in keeping my mind off the important process of grieving and something I often reflect on as a time when I didn’t really do justice in helping me to deal with the impact of loss.

Prayer: Loving Lord, be with us in our times of solitude and suffering. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you and to see the brighter days ahead.

Action: The next time you are alone with your thoughts remember to thank God for his goodness and for his mercies even in times of sorrow.

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