The older I get, the more I weep. I figure it’s because I’m becoming more like Jesus.
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah who was to come would be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Is. 53:3). We see Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus before he is raised from the dead (John 11:35). When Jesus looks at suffering and lost people (Mark 6:34) and the city of Jerusalem as a whole (Luke 13:34), He is moved to a place of overwhelming emotion.
It would be easy for us to think that since Jesus was God in the flesh, He didn’t feel the same things we do. Some people reduce Jesus down to a robot- like non-human who has superpowers, and we couldn’t possibly imitate His life because He had something we don’t have. That thinking doesn’t match up with good Biblical theology. Hebrews chapter four tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way and yet did not sin. It also tells us that He can relate to our weaknesses. I believe that. What Philippians 2 tells us is that Jesus laid aside His divine powers while on earth and only operated in the power of the Holy Spirit. Since we have that same Holy Spirit (as Christians) living inside us, we can expect to do the same things as Jesus did (John 14:12).
Even though Jesus walked in more of the power of the Holy Spirit than any other man who ever walked the earth, He was still moved by the pain that surrounded Him, and suffered. This earth is filled with pain and suffering because of the introduction of sin that occurred in the garden with the first humans Adam and Eve. That sin has been polluting humans and all of creation since then.
We too can share in Christ’s sufferings in many ways (Phil. 3:10, Rom. 8:17). When we love others, we will end up grieving when things go terribly wrong, when sickness and death shatter our peace and rob us of the people we love. Even when a loved one who knows Jesus dies, it is a time that we grieve. We do not grieve for those who have gone to heaven like those who have no hope (1Thes. 4:13), but our humanness feels the loss of their presence until we are reunited.
The Bible instructs us to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). This might feel very scary for you to consider. Some people don’t enter into grief with others because they fear that if they start crying, they won’t be able to stop. Simply being present with others as they are suffering is a powerful ministry. Most people who are grieving don’t need to be reminded that God is bigger and that this will pass – they just need your presence with them. You don’t need to say anything to a grieving friend. The place to start is just to be present, to pray for them, and trust God for His comfort.
I have officiated about 200 memorial services for families over the past 15 years and I have learned a lot about walking with others in grief. In the process I have learned to express my own grief. I want to challenge you to express your grief in the areas you carry it. It could be over the death of a dream, the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a relationship that has been fractured or even something like going through bankruptcy. I want to encourage you to find someone you can talk to and allow them to weep with you and walk with you in your pain.
Grieving is healthy, cleansing, and leads you to a new place of hope for your future. I invite you to be a man or woman of sorrows too. It’s an authentic place to live.
- Andrew Burchett, Lead Pastor