When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, “Where did you put him?” “Master, come and see,” they said. Now Jesus wept. The Jews said, “Look how deeply he loved him.” John 11:34-36 The Message
By Pastor David
There are times when there are no words. Nothing comes to mind. The situation is so heartbreaking that you feel it deep down in your heart and soul.
That’s what happened when I heard the news. I was in my Clinical Pastoral Education at IU Hospital West when I got word that a teenager who overdosed on heroin was brought into the ER and did not make it. The family was devastated and they requested a visit from the Chaplain on duty. The boy was 15. And all I could do was pray as I journeyed across the building.
When I arrived I stopped by the room where he lay and said a prayer. Several members of the family were present. The father greeted me and he was very upset. He made it obvious that they were a Christian Family. I knew all the “right” Christian things to say to myself and anyone else who might ask … but it was hard to wrap my mind around the incredible loss. I knew it was best to just sit with them in the moment, be present, listen and be slow to speak.
As I sat there and listened to the conversation in the room, I turned the words I heard into prayer. I got a sense of each person there and lifted silent prayers based on their reactions and feelings. We then moved to a waiting room for the family.
As we sat there in the room together, the nurse came into the room and said, “We thought he was gone but there are signs of life.” I pulled the nurse aside and said, “What is going on. I was back there and said a prayer over him before we came to this room. He was dead then. How long did he go without oxygen? Are you absolutely sure?” She said yes. Then a few moments later another nurse came around the corner and told the two of us that he was Indeed dead. My heart sunk. All I thought was, “How can we do this to this family.” I was heart broken. I knew I was really needed now.
It was as if the family had to repeat the previous scene all over. But this time people were angry. But they were all grieving as was I. It was as if we were living the Lazarus story when we heard he was not dead. But it was not to be. Everyone was heart broken and sad.
The story of Lazarus in the Bible tells of a time Jesus Himself grieved. There are so many facets to the story of Lazarus. Jesus knew him. This was a friend Jesus spent time with. We know Jesus loved everyone, but the Bible specifically states, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (John 11:5)
Jesus had dinner with Lazarus. Jesus even found Himself in the middle of sister drama with Martha and Mary. He knew this family, and they knew Him. Personally.
That was one of the many reasons why the death of Lazarus was such a shock. It was hard to understand why. We all know how the story ends — Lazarus didn’t stay dead long. Jesus heals Lazarus.
But in the middle, between death and life, something else happened. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35)
This begs the question … why? Jesus knew Lazarus would die, but He also knew Lazarus would live again. Why weep? He could have started with “Lazarus, come forth,” but He chose to shed tears publicly.
Jesus doesn’t ever say why, so we really don’t know. It reminds me that some moments don’t need words. They don’t need explanations or proclamations. They are simply a time to grieve. They are a time we can be together, when just sharing space and presence is enough.
When in Clinical Pastoral Education, you learn that silence can be the best thing we can do. Our presence can have a calming effect or even just remind people of the presence of God in the room. Allowing people to “feel” whatever they feel, weep, and experience what is going on inside is the best thing we can do. It allows the healing process to begin as we grieve. We all deal with it differently. We know how we feel when we go through a traumatic event like this, but we do not know how someone else feels.
To everything there is a season, including grief. As we walk through sad times, God is with us. Jesus is weeping with us. Jesus allows us to feel, process, grieve and get upset. Jesus knows how we feel.
Jesus … A Savior who wept. Someone who grieved. Jesus knows how we feel and what we need to heal. We all need to allow ourselves to grieve, be sad, get upset, weep and cycle through it again as we need.
Loss is experienced in so many ways. Not just the death of a loved one, but the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the loss of health, the loss of a home, etc.
Dear God, sometimes, life is hard, but we are so grateful for Your presence through it all. Help us in our grieving and healing, and help us know that you are always there. Help us to deepen our faith, and learn to trust in ways where we can see the hope in life even when it is so difficult. Thank You for Your love and the hope that we have in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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