I totally dig Jesus, full stop!! I love that He’s the friend to sinners, heals blindness, confronts religious insanity, loves fallen people, multiplies provisions and heaps more! But what stops me in my tracks is when I see His humanity.
This morning, I read about Jesus in Gethsemane when He tells Peter, James and John that His soul is deeply grieved to the point of death (Matt 26:38). And Gethsemane was on the heels of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, where Jesus wept. This reminds me of Jesus being tired from His journey in John 4, where He takes a pause by a water well in Samaria and strikes up a transforming conversation with the very broken Samaritan woman. And there’s also the time when He was sleeping in the boat when His disciples were freaked out by a massive storm on the Sea of Galilee.
In these common human experiences such as grief, sleep, being tired and weeping, it helps me know that Jesus has walked in human skin. Jesus is Incarnate God: fully God as though He were not man & fully man as though He were not God. I can appreciate that it’s difficult to wrap our finite minds around how that works, but let’s be grateful that Genuine Love walks with us in our daily living and is compassionate with our human existence.
I’m not a grief fan, but alas I get to feel this old familiar emotion because our neighbor family whom we deeply love is moving today. It’s a great sadness for my whole family because our families are intricately connected: all of my kids with their kids, my husband totally appreciates his friendship with their dad & their mom & I are soul sisters. We can be in the same room & don’t have to say anything to know the vibe for each other. I seriously hate grief & loss. What really stinks is that there’s no way around grief except through it.
If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a friend who moved, or a lost friendship these are all difficult grief situations & there’s not a person on the planet who gets a free pass from experiencing grief. Maybe grief is part of what it means to love from the heart.
Jesus knew grief from His earthly existence – a man familiar with our sorrows, griefs & sufferings. While I love to celebrate the triumphant & risen King, it seems that my affection for & connection with Jesus deepens when I appreciate that He has walked the grief path before & is walking through grief with us in our various human experiences, even today.
My son & I were talking this morning about being sensitive to people and their needs. In our discussion, I was reminded of the story when Jesus came to Martha and Mary after their brother Lazarus had died, landing in possibly one of the darkest moments of their lives. If you remember, Martha & Mary had sent to Jesus before Lazarus died, asking Him to come & heal their sick brother. Despite receiving this information, Jesus waited where he was and purposely came to Martha & Mary after their brother died. Jesus’ delay was extremely disappointing to Martha & Mary (“If You had been here, he would not have died”). Nevertheless, Jesus had a really insightful conversation with Martha about resurrection & if you have some moments, I’d encourage you to read John 11 to look into that chat between the two of them.
After talking with Martha, Jesus connected with Mary who was a virtual basket case from her grief, disappointment, anxiety and loss. Jesus listened, watched, observed everyone’s grief and didn’t reply with a cliche’ quick fix answer – “Oh he’s in a better place now,” nor did Jesus try to change the subject, distract everyone with a miracle, discuss theology with the attending religious leaders, or do the All Knowing God answer. After taking everything in, Jesus wept. When you read to the end of John 11, we see that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead so there’s a really unexpected and extremely happy ending to the whole story – but Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus from the dead before He experienced the grief through which everyone was going with the death of Lazarus.
When a person whom we love dies, its kind of a surreal journey & that has certainly been true for me with my dad’s death almost 2 months ago. I’m writing, on occasion, about my thoughts and feelings about his death not to be morbid or to seek for sympathy or attention. Instead, my intent is to help others who may be going through some grief or loss. With that being said, the first few weeks after my dad died were a bit of a whirlwind – lots of activities, people expressing concern, kindness and an overall sense of busy-ness. The last month, however, has seemed to settle down in relation to activities related to my dad’s passing. For me, this has been a more difficult time than when he first died. I find myself frequently remembering cool things about my dad:
when I was 5 years old, he would let me ride on his shoulders when we would go to Israel so that I could see and hear what the tour guides were talking about – helping me experience the Bible in a first hand way
he would make his coffee uber strong & playfully threaten to splatter weak coffee all over the wall – a sentiment with which I find myself in more & more agreement ,)
stopping for ice cream at Baskin Robbins 31 flavors on the way home from church on Sunday nights & he always ordered (and shared with me) jamocha almond fudge 🙂
when I was in junior high, he would come to my basketball games, even though he had absolutely no athletic inclination. Now more than ever, I totally appreciate what this means – watching jr high girls’ basketball can be a genuine labor of love ,)
So if you’re on a journey that includes grief or loss, I pray that you would continue to celebrate the good memories and characteristics of whoever has passed on and I pray that we can both turn to Jesus to carry our griefs and sorrows. After all that’s said and done, Jesus loves us and is walking along this journey with us.
Well, my dad passed away a little over a month ago & it’s been a weird time & kind of like a whirlwind. Before we had his memorial service, I had a quick trip to Rome with mom & our group trip. While I totally love Rome, my visit was a little bittersweet, as I recalled some of the times I’d been there with my dad. After the Rome visit, we had a really amazing memorial service for my dad & we were nothing less than overwhelmed with the support, prayers, kind words & gratitude expressed during this service – completely AMAZING!!
It’s been a few weeks now since the memorial service & while I think that we (mom & I) are generally doing pretty well, there are certainly some moments when it gets difficult and sad for me. I’m finding that these moments are really unpredictable (watching my daughter play basketball & remembering my dad watch me, driving to church to present a difficult sermon, typing this blog now, . . . .). With all of that being said, I’m learning to value & appreciate the different ways that God is helping me and that I am not invincible nor impervious. Jesus carries our griefs and sorrows – we aren’t designed to bear that weight. So let’s join together & give Jesus our cares, worries, sorrows and griefs because Jesus is the ultimate Hercules 🙂
My dad died over this past weekend and it’s been an interesting journey over the last few days with lots of emotions, kind & gentle people along with some rough spots. If you’ve lost someone who is close to you, or have a friend in this situation, here are a few things that have been helpful to me so far:
be gentle with yourself and others: losing someone who is important in your life is hard so being tender and gentle is a necessary counter-point for this hardness
grief is illogical & doesn’t need to be justified: the “why” questions and appropriate answers don’t help, at least not for me up to this point
time versus busy: some people need activity and to be occupied with doing things while others need some space, but too much time or activity can lead to some bad results
presence: what I’ve found helpful is together-ness, someone being present (but not necessarily chatty – smile)
encouragement: let everyone’s encouragement, kind words and supportive efforts come into your heart;
God: involve God at all levels; grief and death are not the times to pull away from God
Are there more things that you’ve found helpful? I’d be keen for your input