Throughout her presidential campaign, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received daily support from her pastor and longtime friend, Rev. Bill Shillady.
Clinton, a lifelong Methodist, met the United Methodist pastor in New York in 2002. They formed a spiritual bond that would later help the politician get through one of the most grueling and divisive presidential campaigns the country has seen in years.
Shillady’s pastoring to Clinton largely took the form of daily devotionals he sent to her by email. These prayerful meditations are collected in Shillady’s new book, Strong for a Moment Like This, set to publish on August 15.
“She told me that my email was the first she opened every day and and it helped keep her grounded and centered,” Shillady said of Clinton in an interview with CNN published Thursday.
Shillady’s emails didn’t stop on election day. The pastor continued his daily devotionals into December to help Clinton through the defeat. Leaving the Javits Center ― where Clinton supporters were gathered on election day for what they hoped would be a victory rally ― Shillady knew he had a difficult task ahead of him.
“I went home to bed, and then I got up to write the hardest devotional I had to write,” he said.
On the morning of Nov. 9, Shillady sent Clinton an email with the message that “God doesn’t close one door without opening another, but it can be hell in the hallway.” His devotional that day compared her loss to Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus.
“For the disciples and Christ’s followers in the first century, Good Friday represented the day that everything fell apart,” he wrote.
He continued with a word of hope: “While death had seemingly won, Jesus knew better. When he said, ‘It is finished,’ it wasn’t meant to be a statement of concession. It was a declaration that a new day was on the way.”
First published on CNN, this is the email Shillady sent Clinton on the morning of Nov. 9, with the subject line “Sunday is Coming”:
It is Friday, but Sunday is coming. This is not the devotional I had hoped to write. This is not the devotional you wish to receive this day. While Good Friday may be the starkest representation of a Friday that we have, life is filled with a lot of Fridays.
For the disciples and Christ’s followers in the first century, Good Friday represented the day that everything fell apart. All was lost. The momentum and hope of a man claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah who was supposed to change everything, had been executed.
Even though Jesus told his followers three days later the temple would be restored, they had no idea of what that Sunday would be. They betrayed, denied, mourned, fled and hid. They did just about everything BUT feel good about Friday and their circumstances.
For us, Friday is the phone call from the doctor that the cancer is back. It’s the news that you have lost your job. It’s the betrayal of a friend, the loss of someone dear. Friday is the day that it all falls apart and all hope is lost. We all have Fridays. But, as the saying goes, “Sunday’s coming!”
Today, you are experiencing a Friday. Your Friday is what happened in the last few weeks and last night in the tragic loss. But Sunday is coming!
Jesus completed the excruciating task of giving up his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. It was his faith and belief in his heavenly Father, that gave him the grace and peace to submit to Friday. While death had seemingly won, Jesus knew better. When he said, “It is finished,” it wasn’t meant to be a statement of concession. It was a declaration that a new day was on the way.
Friday is finished. Sunday is coming. Death will be shattered. Hope will be restored. But first, we must live through the darkness and seeming hopelessness of Friday.
You know one of my favorite sayings is “God doesn’t close one door without opening another, but it can be hell in the hallway.” My sister Hillary. You, our nation, our world is experiencing a black Friday. Our hope is that Sunday is coming. But it might well be hell for a while.