"Jesus wept." John 11:35 (NIV)
Colorful balloons and gerbera daisies filled the stage. Amber had asked everyone to wear something bright and cheerful — something that would have made her feisty, beautiful 8-year-old daughter happy had she been there.
But Callie wasn't there. When this precious girl died, a piece of Amber's heart went with her. Some days, Amber went to bed amazed she had made it through another day.
Well-meaning people told her to move on or to be grateful for the time she had with Callie. But the more she pushed her grief down, the more it came out in places she didn't want it to, and in ways that she didn't understand or expect.
The Bible tells of others who grieved this deeply. In John 11, we are told Martha and Mary deeply mourned the loss of their brother, Lazarus. Four days had passed, and they learn that Jesus and the disciples approached the city gates.
Martha rushed to meet Jesus. Mary did not.
It's significant that Mary did not immediately come to Jesus. Mary is the one who had sat at Jesus' feet, capturing every word. Mary is the one who loved Jesus as a brother, but revered Him as Lord.
Though Scripture doesn't share specifically why Mary initially remained behind, it does paint a picture of her state of mind. As Mary finally approached Jesus, she fell at His feet. There, she held up her questions, her doubt and her grief with open hands.
And the Bible tells us, Jesus wept.
One commentary describes this response to Mary as an "expression of the Divine in contrast to the human spirit." Jesus was so moved by the depths of sorrow from Mary and the others gathered, that the heart of God reached from heaven to weep with them.
Not long after His encounter with Mary, Jesus experienced a sorrow greater than anyone has ever known. In Isaiah 53:4 it was foretold, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (KJV). Heartache was an intimate companion to Christ's suffering on the cross.
As Jesus wept, He understood the weight of Mary's grief. He didn't tell her to move on. Or that she shouldn't feel this way. Instead, Jesus offered inner peace for inner anguish as He mourned alongside her.
Perhaps today you understand Amber's pain. You desire to live whole, but you live with untended grief.
May I share comforting news? In the presence of Jesus, you don't have to numb it, escape from it or push it down. Your heavenly Father requires none of these. Just as Jesus welcomed Mary, He beckons you to come to a safe place, where your Savior is not afraid of sorrow. This safe place is a haven where the mending of your heart begins, as you are invited to express your grief with the One who was wounded and broken, and who carried your heartache upon Himself on the cross.
It's been two years since Callie left this earth. Amber said her healing began the day she felt free to mourn her sweet Callie with the Savior who loved her best. Does she still miss her? Certainly, for Callie is a part of Amber's heart that will live on. But on those days when Amber meets grief — and those days will happen — she knows there is a safe place as she throws open the door to her heart and invites Christ in.
Loving Savior, who promises never to leave me or forsake me, who understands the weight I've carried, today I invite You to weep with me. I feel joy that I can come to You with open hands to receive renewed life in the midst of my grief. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:Do you know the One who weeps with you?
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Reflect and Respond:
Designate a specific time and place to express your grief with Jesus. Write your thoughts in a journal.
Each week, go back and note the times you sensed God with you.
Isaiah 40:29-31, "He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (NLT)
© 2014 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.