The Sorrow of Parting – and the Joy of Reunion

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Just recently my husband’s aunt returned for a visit from Australia where she had made her home many years ago. How wonderful it was to see her again after quite a few years! With Australia in mind, I recall the emigration of an uncle of mine to that far-off place when I was a child. Their house was sold and my uncle and his wife and children stayed with various relatives until the morning they were to leave. My grandmother was distraught as she said goodbye for the very last time to her son and his family on the platform of Portadown railway station. Sadly she was never to see him ever again and some have even said that she knew this instinctively and that this parting knowledge broke her heart.

As we hugged and said our goodbyes to my husband’s aunt at a farewell reunion of his side of the family, I felt emotional in the knowledge that some of the family may have passed away, should she ever return. It is difficult, too, for someone in their seventies to make that long journey. Australia is about as far as anyone can travel from the island of Ireland, involving long flights.

Some months ago I waved goodbye to my daughter as once more she returned to Italy. I stood there, at our front door and watched, waving, while the car, with my husband driving, made its way slowly out onto the country road outside our home. I watched her last wave to me and then with a heavy heart, I turned and made my way to her bedroom, where I kneeled at her bed to pray for her. I prayed for that ‘hedge of thorns’ to surround her and for the Lord’s protection in her life. Parting is never easy.

Many a tear is shed in railway stations, sea ferry terminals and great airports the world over as loved ones say their goodbyes, not knowing for absolutely certain that they shall ever meet again in this life. I remember sitting in a train which had stopped in a railway station in pre-war Yugoslavia. Wives, mothers and girlfriends were on the platform crying, as young soldiers boarded the train. Although this was 1981, it was a strange scene, almost like a film from the Second World War era…

I was young then too and very touched by this great expression of sorrow that I was witness to.

Parting is never easy when those we love depart this scene of time either. Death, that last enemy snatches our loved ones and leaves us with broken hearts.

And some day there will be a different kind of parting too, for “then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matthew 24v40&41) This is surely the ultimate in a sorrowful parting – the reality that souls will never ever meet again in eternity.

Yet this terrible separation need never happen, for the Lord Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose again that families, acquaintances and loved ones might be united in Him today – and for always.

The most terrible and unthinkable separation of all would surely be the one whereby we are separated eternally from the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. This horrific possibility was never in the Lord’s will for any person on this earth. He gave His life that a glorious reunion may be ours in heaven – with those we loved and knew who trusted Him here. And most wonderful of all is the knowledge that we can rest in His Presence throughout the glorious years of eternity, when all tears shall be wiped away from our eyes and pain, dying, sorrow and war shall be no more. It is surely His will that you turn in repentance and faith to the One who loves you and died for your salvation that you might know His Presence in your life forevermore. May the Lord bless these words to your heart.

 

 

Tears of anguish fell so long ago,

With emigration’s cruel and bitter flow.

Earthly ties were cut forever,

Loved ones lost to man’s endeavour.

 

Oh that every circle would unbroken be,

On that other shore beyond life’s crashing sea,

So find that promised rest, oh troubled soul,

That thy name be called from Jesus’ blessed roll.

 

© Elizabeth Burke

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