By: Lt. Colonel Dean Hinson
When Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, died; He wept (John 11:35). In my devotions, J. D. Walt of Seedbed Ministry said that Jesus wasn’t weeping for Lazarus. Jesus had just told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (v.25). I have often thought that Jesus wasn’t doing his friend any favors bringing him back from heaven to go through physical death a second time.
So, why was Jesus crying? Verse 33 says, When Jesus saw her (Mary, Lazarus’ sister) weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him. Jesus was moved to tears by the suffering and grieving of those left behind. Jesus was troubled by the suffering from death in this fallen and sinful world.
Recently, Commissioner Louise Morris passed away. She served with her husband, Ted, in numerous appointments in the Southern Territory and in Japan where they became territorial leaders. Family and friends gathered to celebrate her Promotion to Glory. We knew that Aunt Louise would not be happy with somber, slow music. She expected us to praise God, along with smiles, fellowship and vocal amens, acknowledging that she had received her reward and was in heaven. Hallelujah!
But even in celebration there were tears. We heard many stories from people she had ministered and mentored, and they felt a personal loss with her passing. Her boys, along with their wives, lost a mom and their children a grandma. Memories of special events, vacations, dinners and conversations brought a lump to our throats as we shared stories of her impact on so many lives. We collectively knew that Jesus felt our sorrow and suffering and that his presence brought comfort and strength amidst our grief.
As I consider our world today, many are suffering. The COVID pandemic has brought tragedy to millions all around the world. Along with health issues are economic problems. Many have lost their jobs and don’t know how they will pay their rent or provide for their families. Our children have suffered through on-line school, isolation from friends, canceled graduations/proms, etc. In addition to the pandemic are the racial issues that have brought protests, both peaceful and violent, to our cities. The numerous senseless killings over the last few months have revealed deep-seated racist policies and conduct that continue to divide us. Also, hurricanes and wildfires continue to wreak havoc. These tragedies are larger and more numerous than we have ever experienced, and they keep coming.
The question is often asked in these days: Where is God? I believe that just as Jesus wept with those who grieved for Lazarus, he is right here beside us sharing our pain and taking on our burdens. God, speaking to Moses from the burning bush, said, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress … I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them” (Exodus 3:7-8). Jesus not only sees and knows our suffering. He weeps with us and provides strength in the most chaotic times. He provides joy in sorrow, hope in despair, comfort in mourning and life in death.