If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you are told that all things work for good and God’s glory. The suffering that comes into your life will make you a better person. Just give it to God, you’re told.
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 don’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 he 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). The grieving he saw moved Jesus.
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 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.
*On that note, I want to ask for prayer for a young family I know who is facing a very dark period in their lives. The father has been diagnosed with a strange kind of cancer. I have known this family for years and they have been a rich blessing to both Dan and me. They have two young children (about the age of my own). I know God can heal him. But I also know God might have other plans. I ask anyone reading this to pray for strength as they face the next couple weeks, months, even years. I pray that their hearts will find peace and love during this turbulent time. And I pray that they will know that they are loved and prayed for by many. Amen.