The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, January 26, 2023, was written Neri Ruth Gattinoni of Chubut, Argentina.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:16-20 NRSV
When my husband and I received an urgent message that my father was not doing well, we immediately bought plane tickets and flew to Buenos Aires. Two cousins met us upon arrival. I asked them which hospital my father was in, only to be told that he had died. As I tried to grasp the situation, the despair made it difficult to breathe. I thought, my father is gone! I have no idea how I will live without him.
I was with my mother when we arrived at the church for my father’s funeral service. As we were walking in, I felt the warm touch of someone’s hand on my arm. I turned, thinking it was my husband, but no one was there. I believe in my heart that it was Jesus Christ taking me by the arm, giving me strength for the coming days. I don’t remember the rest of the time during the visitation, only the warm touch and the feeling of comfort, love, and support it gave me. Each time I remember that moment, I acknowledge the reality of today’s scripture. The Lord fulfilled that promise to me and never left my side.
Many of us can identify with Neri’s feeling of shock and disbelief, as we’ve had to come to grips with the passing of a loved one. We find ourselves in a whirl of activity, making funeral arrangements, contacting family members, and constructing the obituary. At times we can feel a drift amidst the mountain of emotions. Yet, Neri’s reflection reminds us that God is always with us, offering us a warm comforting touch and the blessed assurance we need to endure.
Merciful God, when our spirits are crushed, remain with us, and sustain us. Thank you for the constancy of your love. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
- Neri Ruth Gattinoni