George Sabol

“Suffering Alone”

Thomas was not with them when Jesus came. – John 20:24

  1. Selfish Sorrow – After fleeing the garden with the others, Thomas knew that Jesus was condemned and crucified; that He was dead and buried. His grief and agony was intense. He lost the love of his life. Earlier he had been willing to die with Jesus, yet now he had abandoned Him, left Him to stand trial without as much of a word of testimony in His defense. What friend of Jesus was he? He was psychologically beaten, spiritually drained, emotionally destroyed. He withdrew from the world. What could the world offer? Worse, he abandoned his friends, his closest and dearest companions. They shared the same grief and they needed the strength of his character to help them understand. Thomas thought of no one but himself. What of Mary, Jesus’ mother, did she not need Thomas to cling to in her sorrow?
  2. Withdrawal to the Cave – Shortly after Francis’ conversion and having embraced the leper, Bonaventure tells that Francis began to seek out solitary places that were favorable for grieving. Of what Francis grieved we can only imagine but surely his thoughts were of Jesus Christ beaten and crucified. But was that grieving also at times of his personal loss? Would it not be natural to grieve the loss of his father? And what of his mother? Was she not also in grief at the loss of her son and the alienation of her husband? How much of Francis’ withdrawal was a response to his call by God and how much possibly to misdirected personal grief and selfish self-pity? Could Francis have achieved all that he set for himself and still have left room for those that he loved and who loved him? Was it necessary for him to leave mother and father to follow God? Personal pursuits, no matter how good and noble, can be a painful burden to others.
  3. The Test – Life will always present pain, sorrow and suffering. The test is the power of our love so as to set aside our personal grief to comfort others. Thomas loved Jesus powerfully; he could have used that power to aid his friends and in that he failed and lost. Francis found the means to love Jesus powerfully in the cave of his grief, but at what cost to those who cherished him? How much room did Francis leave in the cave of his heart for his mother to enter, and for his father, too?

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