When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. ~John 11: 33-35
An inexplicable grief wells up from a place deep in the pit of my stomach. It wrenches a knot there, then I feel tears stream down my face. The crying won’t stop. I can barely whisper “no….please no.” Just breathe, I say to myself. Breathe below your diaphragm, fill your lungs with air. Do it again. And again. The pain and sorrow of this loss is becoming too much. Slowly, my breathing steadies, then just tears. Endless tears. Tears for a long time. For more time than there should be tears. The tears and grief, though, have a way of showing up when we least expect it. When we don’t want it. When we would rather feel or do anything else. For me, the grief welled up unexpectedly at the death of a beloved character on a TV series I have been watching. The grief over his death and watching the unfolding sorrow of other characters whom I have come to love, too, touched a core place deep within me.
The grief the other night was only symptomatic, of course, of the intense grief we are all feeling right now for all of our current losses. Deaths without funerals. Graduating year without a graduation. Illness and the inability to visit. Job losses and stock market declines. An unknown future. Even how often to go to a grocery store or pharmacy and how close to stand to someone becomes a major dilemma. And there is grief over the loss of those simple things. We are overwhelmed with loss right now.
This is how Jesus felt at the death of his dear friend, Lazarus. Jesus knew that Lazarus’ death would reveal God’s glory so he waited to go and see him. But it must have been gut wrenching. Jesus knew the grief that would ensue. The grief of Mary and Martha, the grief of other family and friends. And his own grief, too. Jesus wept. Yet in Lazarus’ death, God is glorified. As Jesus raises Lazarus from death, the God who overcomes even the darkest shadows of death and grief is revealed.
This is what the journey of Holy Week, the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ reminds us: that our hope, our lives, and all that we are rests safely and securely in this God who overcomes death and the grave in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This resurrection promise is ours. Though we suffer and grieve, God is there in the midst of that suffering. God suffers, too. Jesus weeps with us. In this time of overwhelming grief of every kind, may we be reminded that Jesus is right there, in the midst of all our grief and loss. And that God who raised Jesus from the dead will do that for us, too.
There was healing and release as I wept. It was healthy to let out all of the other pent up and unacknowledged griefs of this strange time. Even Jesus wept. And then Jesus went back to his ministry to raise Lazarus from the dead.
God of hope and healing. Comfort us and speak Your peace into all our grief and losses. Our loss of control. Our loss of a sense of safety. Our loss of all the normal things. Hold us close, we pray. Give us a safe space to grieve, to mourn, to cry, and to lament because some days that is all we can do. Then call us gently back to You, O God, and to the ministry and the work that you would have us do in this day. We pray this is the name of the One who called forth Lazarus from his grave, the One who will call us out of our tombs, too, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.