On Saying Goodbye

I am sitting in an airport in Bolivia waiting for a connecting flight.  If it wasn’t for a recent glance at a map, I would have no idea where Bolivia is.  I am in the city of Santa Cruz.  Again, I have no idea where that is.  I am craving a mocha coffee but am trying very hard to avoid Montezuma’s revenge.  I have a multi-hour layover on my way to Peru, the final leg of a South America trip visiting two of our missionaries.  A trip which I am very thankful the church gave me the opportunity to take.

I said good-bye today.  Good-bye to my brother.  It would appear that I won’t see him again for around two years.  It has me thinking.  I remember in June of 2004 saying goodbye.  This was the missionary goodbye that all families of loved ones called to be “Goers” with gospel suffer through.  It was tough.  Very tough.  No more difficult than what others have been through.  Certainly no more tough than what families in our church did when they said goodbye to sons and daughters heading to war in Iraq.  Or the sometimes long goodbye that cancer or disease requires.  Or the sudden and unexpected goodbye of the death of a loved one.  These all taste the same, some are much more difficult to swallow.

So I said goodbye today.  It was strange as the familiar but undesirable emotions filled my heart, then went to my throat in the form of a lump, and found release in my tear ducts.  You sometimes wonder if being together warrants the pain of not being together again.  Yet we all know it does.  But its got me thinking.  Why do goodbyes feel this way?  Why are they so painful?

Surely God didn’t intend it to be this way?  Was there a twinge of hurt when the duties of the Garden took Adam and Eve apart?  If the Fall had never happened, would goodbyes be as joyful as hellos?  We don’t know.  We do know that we hate goodbyes now.

Have you ever considered why you don’t mind saying goodbye in some situations?  It would seem that the amount of sorrow we feel in the goodbye is some measure of the love of being together we have in our hearts.  In this way, goodbyes are decent love indicators.  Since loving each other in family and church relationships is a duty and a calling, we are destined to a lifetime of painful partings.

Would we really want it any other way?  To have no sorrow would be to have no love.  A life situation more painful than any goodbye could ever be.  So as I sit here in the lonely airport, it would seem to me that what we all should strive for is sadness in saying goodbye.  For relationships whose separation reveals the preciousness of our time together.  In short, for true love with brothers and sisters whether they be biological or spiritual.  And in the pain that parting brings to realize the intensity of God’s love and His desire to enjoy true and eternal fellowship with us.  A fellowship with Him and with all who love Him that will never again include a goodbye.

Pastor Steve

© 2009 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction.


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  1. ~Sue~

    Good-byes are so not a wanted but, always required as we move in this journey of life. However,they also help us to reflect on what was so, that we can enjoy what is to come.

  2. mollie stewart

    hi pastor steve,
    i can so relate to “your” painful goodbye i had to say goodbye to my sister yesterday am she left from here after a 4 week visit, we had not seen each other since christmas of 07 and may not get to each other again until oct.2010, she lives in AZ. i was so torn by her leaving as im still not sure of her salvation we brought her to church w/us 3 times during her stay and she loved it. phil & i had many conversations w/her regarding her eternity only GOD knows for sure i feel like she says the right things that lead me to believe she is a christian but then she will say something that makes me wonder. even though phil & i both took “the way of the master” course witnessing has always been a struggle for me i dont really know why this is but its something ive prayed & aganoized over for all of my christian life i dont want to step off into eternity and not know ill be joined by my loved ones.
    well maybe you could pray for me in this area.
    goodbyes are very panful for me now as im getting older and also since i have lost both parents i never know when it will be our last time to say we love each other
    hope you enjoy the rest of your “rest” looking forward to your return to the pulpit
    in christ,mollie

  3. Sandy Favors

    Dear Pastor Steve,

    I was so glad that I had read this blog. It made saying goodbye to my son yesterday easier knowing that the reason that it was heart wrenching is that we love each other so much. He was able to come home for a two week leave from Afghanistan (such a blessing from God) which was great and we had alot of family time together, but then we had to say goodbye and watch him go at the airport. Normally I am a strong Army Mom but yesterday was very difficult to hold it together. Then I remembered your blog. It made it much easier for me to know that the goodbye was difficult not only because of where he was going for the next 7 months but also that our family loves each other and doesn’t like to be apart. God has provided so many blessings and comfort to us that it is truly amazing.

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