“Jesus wept,” are some of the most powerful words that we find in Scripture.
Jesus is weeping at the death of Lazarus, even though he knows he’s about to raise him from the dead. So why is he weeping when inexpressible joy and the most astonishing miracle in his ministry is about to occur?
Jesus could well have said to Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, “Why are you grieving so much? I’m about to show you how little a thing death is.”
But there’s a very important point in this passage. Jesus felt the full impact of the two sisters’ excruciating pain in the loss of their beloved brother. He was moved to tears because of theirs. Their sorrow became his. Even though Jesus knew the miracle he was about to perform, it still didn’t in any way neutralize the pain that occurred in his heart.
The same is true for us today.
There is a clear Old Testament precedent for this. Just as Jesus did, God feels the pain and distress of his people:
In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old. -Isaiah 63:9
True, God knows the wonderful deliverances and rescues he has planned for his people. This doesn’t subtract from his experiencing their grief with them—he does, because he is so close to their hearts.
Isn’t it one of our first thoughts when tragedy or loss strikes us, that God doesn’t know about it, or if he does know, he isn’t moved by it?
But Jesus shows us the very close link between his Father and himself, and that this mysterious but real connection continues between himself and his disciples (Luke 10:16). So it is impossible for us to go through any heartbreak and loss, without Jesus and the Father going through it with us at the same time.
Just stop and think about this revolutionary and unique idea: God our Father and Jesus feel our grief and loss as much as, or even more than, we do. If we hurt, God hurts. If we’re shedding tears, the Creator of the universe not only knows all about it, but weeps with us.
When our minds and hearts assimilate this fact, it will begin to transform what’s going on inside us. Consider: what loving parent doesn’t agonize over the pain and suffering of their beloved child? Which parent wouldn’t take the suffering upon themselves in their child’s place if they could? This is what the crucifixion of Jesus means for us. He took our sin upon himself and absorbed into his own person the judgment due to us. He did this and will continue to do it in various ways through the events of our lifetime.
So during this challenging time when it is easy to question God’s presence or his seeming negligence and silence, let’s not misperceive his character. In the quarantine of today, the loss of a loved one, the grief of old wounds dredged up, the health battles, the anxieties, the forced isolation in the midst of an unhappy marriage, the tantrums of children or the rebelliousness of teenagers, you may blame, accuse, and resent him. But however desperate you may feel or however grim the situation in front of you is, know that God is weeping with you and bringing a day in the future that is far better than you could ever have imagined. Abide in him and wait for him.
God Almighty, help me through my struggle to see you as my loving Father. Keep me from any desire or inclination to accuse you or run from you in my grief. I thank you for your tears that will wash away my pain. Amen.