One of the greatest gifts a leader can give to another is the gift of non-anxious presence.
She has lost her job, her father, her husband and her home all in the space of a year. She is understandably troubled. Is she losing her mind? Was she simply deluded to believe that life could be blessed? “Where are you God?” All certainties have crumbled. The sea swelled, it seems, in an instant and the skies opened up; it is storming now, suddenly. Tears come easier than smiles. Will she live out the rest of her days in mourning? Where can she turn?
If only Jesus were here to sit with her and weep. He may have come late, but everything would be better now, everything would be okay.
“Where were you, Rabbi?”
We have been worrying, wringing our hands, hearts wrenched. Wretched. Pacing as a dervish whirls. What shall we do? What shall be done?
“Master, if only you had come when we called you! Where were you? He’s dead now and nothing can be done. Of this I am certain.”
If only Jesus were here; we could hear his words again: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart: I have overcome the world.”
He is not troubled. From where does this confidence come? And how can he be so certain everything will turn out alright? What can be the meaning of such a statement when he told us just the other day he would be crucified? He is not troubled.
I cannot know why he is not troubled. I cannot know. Perhaps he knows that after the killing comes the creating. I do not know. I do know something seems askew with this life. I do know we were not made for mere death. I do know I was made for love.
I know that his presence with me somehow carries both imminence and transcendence. It is both now and not yet. It is constant. It is able to hold me, it has held me and I take it on faith-contrary-to-feelings that it will yet hold me. Beginning and End, who was and is and is to come. He is eternally faithful even in the midst of present injustice. How can this be? Simply by his presence. Simply by his non-anxious presence.
Can we be Jesus to each other in the midst of our crises? Even if we are late in coming, can we impart hope by grounding ourselves in hope? We may not be able to explain everything, but let us not try to. Let us simply be with each other in our losses and sorrows. We may give a great gift to another, standing strong side-by-side.