Read: John 11: 1 – 44
Reflect: For the past few months our four-year-old has been anticipating her upcoming birthday in March – we start the countdowns early around here. Each time a kiddo in our family has a birthday they get to pick their birthday restaurant. Her pick? Hershey Farm.
And then there was the fire. We live close to Hershey Farm and could see the smoke as we drove home that day. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a four-year-old girl with tears running down her cheeks. Realization started to set in that her birthday was close and the restaurant was gone. Her sadness turned to anger. “If they don’t rebuild it by my birthday, I am not picking a new one. I will not eat dinner.” The anger morphed into denial as we drove past the remains. “So they just need to fix the roof a little, right?” She went days declaring that she would not eat anything on her birthday if she couldn’t eat there. Our four-year-old was grieving the loss of a restaurant.
There have been pockets of grief in my life thus far (a bit bigger than a favorite buffet burning down) and I know grief will be woven into my story in the future. Grief is a hard emotion. It is one I have watched friends navigate through in the loss of a husband, a father, a brother. Grief comes from more than death. Grief comes with job loss. Grief comes with a friendship severed. Grief comes when our normal changes.
John 11 finds our Jesus experiencing grief. “Jesus wept.” (v. 35) This simple verse is one of the most comforting verses I have found when walking through grief. There is something about knowing that someone else knows how we feel. Empathy. Jesus experienced the same emotions we do. Jesus felt sadness and frustration and exhaustion and grief. Our Father knows how we feel.
Beyond just knowing how we feel though, Jesus alone can bring peace to a time of grief. Look at Lazarus’ family. Mary and Martha are in the throes of grief. Jesus grieves with them but even more than that, He does what only our God can do. He heals their grief. He provides an answer to their grief that only an omnipotent God could do.
Apply: Is grief a part of your life story right now? Has your favorite buffet burnt down? Let us remember we have a Father who knows grief. A Savior who has wept. A Lord who knows despair. But even more so – we have a Father Who is the Author of peace. A Savior who gives joy. A Lord who provides hope. Let us cling to Him in our days of grief.