Matthew 28:20 – And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (NRSV)
Several years ago my wife had to travel to Montreal to attend a conference. We decided that I would join her after it ended and we would spend the weekend in Montreal together. So on Friday night I boarded a train in Toronto. Just after we crossed into Quebec, there was a problem: we hit a truck at a crossing. There was a tremendous bang, and the train's brakes began to squeal. The cars rocked from side to side. Burning diesel fuel sprayed the sides of the front cars, and the windows in the first car cracked under the heat. I was in the second car from the front, and while our windows remained intact, the flames were all around. I could hear screams from other passengers, especially those in the car right behind the engine.
It wasn't long before we were stopped, though it felt like an eternity. But through it all I heard, over and over, the words of Jesus: "I am with you always."
We were blessed that night: no one was seriously hurt. After climbing onto the tracks and waiting in the ditch for a while, we walked back to the nearest road, where we waited until a fleet of buses arrived to take us to Montreal. I walked into our hotel room covered in creosote, dirt and grease, a little shaken, but fine.
Jesus didn't say that we would always be safe. He didn't tell us that we would never be hurt or killed in a train accident, or run over by a car. He didn't promise to keep us from diseases and misfortunes. But he did promise that, no matter what, he would be there. Through the good and the bad, come what may, Jesus is with us. And whenever I begin to feel depressed, whenever things don't seem to be going too well, whenever I ask why something has to happen to me, I think back to that night on the train. And I remember that Jesus is here with me, to help me through whatever might come my way.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for the comfort that your presence brings us. Help us to lean on you for strength and guidance. Amen.