Saying Goodbye Can Be Tough

Saying ‘goodbye’ can be tough. I’ve been thinking about some Bible stories where people had to say goodbye to one another. Moses led the children of Israel for forty years when it came time for a transition. David and Jonathan were close friends, but the situation was complicated by Jonathan’s father, King Saul. Continuing their friendship just wasn’t possible. In Acts 20 we read about Paul and the elders from Ephesus. He had spent three years teaching and working among them before going to Greece. He stopped in on his way back to Jerusalem and he knew it would be his last time with them. It was an emotional moment for them all.

In our international community there are always a lot of people moving in and moving out. It’s not unusual to make good friends and then have to say goodbye after a couple of years. Relationships can grow close when we are away from family and our home community. After a while it is easy to want to protect yourself from losing good friends and so you just stop interacting as much, or perhaps caring as much.

Moving on or away is part of life. Like anything else, it is important we acknowledge the impact it can have on us. It’s good to know there are some things we can do that are helpful.  

  1. It’s okay to show emotion. Of course, it’s emotional. We don’t just reserve our tears for people who have died. When day-to-day relationships come to an end it represents a real sense of loss. Tears can be cleansing and helpful when words fail us. Luke says the meeting with the elders from Ephesus was emotional, “They wept as they embraced.” (Acts 20:37) It important to acknowledge the loss when we say goodbye.
  2. It’s important to express appreciation for one another. It can be awkward to say goodbye, but it is also a time to give thanks to those individuals who have meant something in our lives. Elegant and elaborate speeches aren’t needed, but words of appreciation are lasting. David and Jonathan spent much time together and when they finally had to part, each made sure the other knew how much the friendship was valued. (2 Samuel 20)
  3. Notice in scripture that there is a power in blessing one another. It is asking God to be active and present in the lives of people we shared time with. Moses had a blessing for each of the 12 tribes and then said:

Blessed are you, Israel!
Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord?
He is your shield and helper (Deut. 33:29)
When we part with a blessing, we invite God to be with our friends and to watch over them. Saying ‘goodbye’ isn’t easy. However, as Christians we know the parting is temporary and we look forward to enjoying eternity together. Meanwhile we count our blessings for having known one another.