“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 NIV
John the Baptist, a relative of Jesus and last of the Old Covenant prophets, had been executed. Affected by the news, Jesus withdrew to a solitary place to be alone.
When he arrived at his destination he was immediately met by crowds desperate for healing.
Jesus certainly believed in the importance of solitude and time alone with God, and for that reason he withdrew to a “desolate place.” But he didn’t let his own needs blind him to the needs of others.
He responded with compassion.
When facing grief, it is easy to focus solely on our own needs.
It is a beautiful thing indeed when a person, without disregarding their own needs, can see far enough beyond their own grief to recognize the pain of others.
May we be, in the language of Henri Nouwen, “wounded healers” who recognize that even in our own brokenness we can bring God’s healing to those around us.
Here is a simple prayer to carry with you today:
Breathe in: My pain is real;
Breathe out: Even so use me to bring healing.