May 11, 2023: Not Orphaned 

Reading: John 14:15-21

[Jesus said:] “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”



I feel like it’s a safe bet that if you saw the movie Bambi when you were a kid, you were probably scarred for life when Bambi couldn’t find his mother in the thicket. No amount of foot-tapping charm from Thumper can undo the trauma of the sound of Bambi saying, “Mother? Mother?!” as he frantically searches for her. I mean, if you weren’t scarred for life, that’s fine; but then Old Yeller also probably didn’t impact you at all. But I digress…

Jesus tells the disciples, “I will not leave you orphaned.” This is an unbelievably comforting thing to say to a bunch of guys who left their families behind to follow him. And Jesus knows that his time with them is growing short even though they don’t yet know that. The image of an orphan is one that sticks with us, because everybody can relate to the idea of feeling scared to be without the safety and security of a loving parent.

And while the disciples didn’t know some of the more famous orphans of our day (Annie, Oliver Twist, Anne of Green Gables, Cinderella), they did know that Jesus was trying to remind them not to be afraid. Again. As if not being afraid was something he was trying to get through to them.

The same message is true for us. God will not leave us orphaned. Scared. Vulnerable. Exposed. God will care for us and help us to not be afraid. No matter what life brings us. God doesn’t ever leave us alone and helpless. God is present in all things, both good and bad, in times both joy-filled and pain-filled. God is there for all of it.

So whether or not you are feeling a little worried about the future on this day, let this be your reminder that God is with you no matter the circumstance. Even if you feel as vulnerable as Bambi.

–Sarah Hershberger



Loving God,

thank you for never leaving us alone. Thank you the way that you tenderly care for us every day, and your constant reminders to not be afraid. Help us remember when we do feel scared that you are holding us close.