Jesus Wept

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’”
John 11: 33-36 ESV

I have always remembered John 11:35 ESV “Jesus wept” as the shortest verse in the Bible. When I was a child, if a Sunday school teacher asked us to memorize a verse, someone would jokingly suggest that one because it was the easiest. Also, the question ‘What is the shortest verse of the Bible?’ would come up in trivia, and I always knew the answer! Recently though, this verse has given me a deeper meaning, and it has caused me to see the two words “Jesus wept” in a whole new way.

One evening last fall after the kids were tucked in bed, I was watching TV with my husband, and my phone rang. We both looked at each other because it was the time of night when no one usually calls, and we all know that feeling of dread that washes over us when this happens. I answered the phone and received the shocking news that a young family member of mine had died tragically. This type of life event usually causes us to stop our daily routines and spend time reflecting on questions that we do not normally think about. Over the next days as I drove 18 hours to the funeral and spent time grieving with my family, I struggled with this news and tried to find answers. Through it all I asked God ‘Why weren’t you there?’

In John 11, Mary and her sister Martha had lost their brother, and when Jesus arrived, they both said to him “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21 and 32 ESV). It strikes me that they asked the same question that I did. Jesus responded in a very human way. He knew God’s plan and what was about to happen, yet he was deeply moved and wept. This scene in the Bible reflects how Jesus is both God and man. He had flesh like us and therefore knew sorrow like we do, and yet he is God and we can go to him for comfort when we are grieving.

The words “Jesus wept” are no longer the answer to a trivia question to me. These two powerful words mean that when I am struggling (and we will experience tragedy on earth), that Jesus is with me and he knows grief too. Jesus is both my savior and comforter, and I am not alone.

Your sister in Christ,

Erin Tabor

Living with Grief Part Three

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

This is the conclusion of our series on living with grief. May you live in hope of heaven! Some time has passed since these difficulties have come into our lives and I can confidently say the joy of the Lord surely renews our Spirit.

8. The new ‘normal’ – Life will never get back to the normal you once knew. It will be different, sometimes surreal. With time, there is a new normal. We should remember those we love, even when they’re gone.  Communicating that love to those who never knew the loved one can aid in the healing. Sharing stories about our deceased relatives and friends give our children a vision of heritage that they appreciate. That love continues to connect us from life through death.

9. Helping others who are grieving – The only comments people said that brought me comfort was that they were hurting with me. I remember very clearly a friend saying, “My heart hurts for you.” Sharing in the grief somehow made it easier to bear.  Sometimes the best thing to say to others is nothing.  My dad calls it “A ministry of presence.” Just being in the presence of a grieving friend often brings comfort that they are not alone.

10. Remembering with thankfulness the things of God – In times of difficulty, I try to remember examples of what God has done in the Bible, my own life, or my friends’ lives. This reminds me He is in control and is working His plan- nothing is out of His hand. Death is a natural part of God’s plan so that we are not separated from Him eternally. Often, we suffer with an “illusion of permanence.” We were never meant to be here forever. God has appointed a time for all to live and for all to die. Because of Jesus this is not our home. The pain, hardships, and disappointments we have in this imperfect world are all temporary. In my grief, I thank God for the privilege of knowing the deceased loved one, remembering the good things I’ll miss.  Being thankful for that person brings divine healing to our heart and soul.

11. Immerse yourself in beauty– My kitchen overlooks the forest. Everyday I would open the blinds and stare outside, letting God’s creation comfort me. God has made nature and beauty to touch our hearts and bring us serenity and peace. It costs nothing and can be a sanctuary amidst well-meaning people not giving you the distance to grieve.

Grieving is a process that never truly finishes. As long as we are in this imperfect world, Jesus promised we will have sorrow. He also promised to be with us and promised consolation. Thanks to Jesus, our time on earth is temporary! There is healing- and eventually we have a home with Him where there is no more sadness.

In him,

Amy Horton

Living with Grief Part Two

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” 
Proverbs 4:23 NIV

The last daily dose we examined some ways to help ourselves through the grieving process. We considered extending grace to others when we are hurting, and focusing on daily tasks to help us restore some normalcy. This is part two of the series. Here are three more  practical ways to help as we mourn and heal during times of tragedy or loss.

5. Find the good – Look for it, no matter how small. I focused on any good news I could find during the sadness. These things were small comforts, but they helped.

6. Set your heart- When the heart breaks it is like a broken bone. If it’s not set appropriately it will heal crippled- perhaps with guilt, anger, or bitterness. In your grieving, seek to keep the attitude of your heart healthy. You can do this by healthy mourning, praise and worship, finding comfort in a Bible reading or talking to trusted friends.

7. Take it to God- Whatever emotion you have in the healing process, God can handle it. He has BIG shoulders.        Remember, we have a Savior who’s acquainted with grief.  Jesus wept at His friend Lazarus’ death.  He knows how we feel.

The book of Job is a whole entreaty about mourning.  Job mourns, his wife mourns, his friends mourn with him.  Eventually Job takes his grief to God who sets him on a solid path.  God reminds Job that He is in charge and that nothing happens that He doesn’t allow.  Once Job repents of his bitter attitude and returns to God with humble acknowledgment, he begins to heal.  And in the end, Job is restored.  We can be restored too.

For our final daily dose in this series, we will finish with some additional ways to find  and extend comfort to others. These can be as simple as spending time in nature, or remembering what God has done in our past.

In Him,

Amy Horton