Jesus Wept

WeepingI wrote this post two years ago and still find comfort in the truth I discovered during a dark time in my life: that God still cares about us even when He is working everything for good.

If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you are told that all things work together for good and God’s glory. The suffering that comes into your life will make you a better person. Just give it to God.

Then you find yourself hit by life. The pain is far beyond what you thought it would be: It goes right to the core of your heart. And suddenly those platitudes you have heard uttered by Christians give no comfort whatsoever. You see no good in what you are going through. And you see God as a stoic being, moving around the pieces of life like a chessboard. You are only a piece to be moved around so God receives the glory.

I felt like this a couple weeks ago. I knew all things work together for good. I knew that my life is not my own, but for God to use for His glory. But I felt like God didn’t feel for me. That God was up above, moving around my life with a look of disinterest. I was only a means to an end. And my suffering meant very little in the grand scheme of things.

Then I read began reading the book of John. And God showed me a picture of himself. Yes, He is orchestrating all of our lives for good and yes, He does all of this for His glory (for when God receives glory, we bask in the warmth). But He is not looking down on us with a stoic expression. He is moved by our hurt.

Sometimes He weeps.

As a child, it was a contest to see who knew the shortest verse in the Bible. And in case you didn’t know, it is “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). But I never understood the full power of that verse until a couple weeks ago. As I read John 11, I felt moved by the story of Martha and Mary and their brother Lazerus.

Lazerus is deathly sick. So his sisters send word to Jesus. They know Jesus can heal their brother. They have seen His power and miracles. But Jesus never comes. And so Lazerus dies. Can you feel their shock, their feelings of betrayal? Why did Jesus heal so many others but never came to help them, His friends? They bury Lazerus, probably along with their hope.

Now let’s look at Jesus’ point of view. Jesus receives word that Lazerus is deathly ill. But He has a plan: a plan for good and God’s glory. So Jesus waits. And waits. Until Lazerus dies. Then he tells his disciples they must head back to Judea so he can awaken Lazerus.

However, you do not see an unemotional Jesus in this chapter. Look how He responds when he sees Mary and the others who are grieving with her: “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.” (John 11:33). Jesus was moved by the grieving he saw.

They head out to the tomb. And at this point Jesus weeps. He sees the grief and hurt of the people around him. My friends, God sees the hurt and grief going on inside of us too. He is not callous to our battered hearts and lives. Even while God is using us for good and for His glory, I believe He is also weeping with us. We have a God who has also suffered. “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” (Hebrews 2:18).

Jesus wept. What a powerful verse. Those two simple words opened my eyes. I no longer see God as a stoic being above me, moving around the pieces of my life with a calloused hand. Instead I see a God who weeps with me.

 

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3 thoughts on “Jesus Wept”

  1. It is hard to square an omnipotent God, who ostensibly cares about us and wants things to work for good, with the suffering we experience and the agony we see around us. Aldous Huxley once commented that perhaps this Earth is another planet’s Hell.

    Elie Weisel, writing about his experiences in surviving the Holocaust, came to the conclusion that God wasn’t there, or that He didn’t care.

    For me, the only way to approach suffering and God’s apparent absence is through Christ’s crucifixion. It is there that He felt alone and abandoned, undergoing pain with no hope of relief. It is there that He came down to fully identify with us. All of us.

    To be secure in God’s love, we have to look at its sometimes harsh reality, and put away the rose-colored glasses of ‘holiness’ of ‘being one of the saints’. It’s better not to smoke or swear or drink, but these are side issues, and in the end irrelevant.

    The reality is that God is calling us to help Him work with a desperately bloody and injured Creation, of which we are a part. He’s like a platoon leader, who has to deploy the individual Marines He loves into positions in which they may be hurt or killed, to achieve a strategic aim.

    And if we fall, His pain will be deep. There are graying men who still visit The Wall in Washington DC, and run their hands over the names of their lost men.

    The difference – the ONLY difference – is that when God runs His hands over our names, we will step off the wall, and into His arms.

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