Read John 11:32-37
32 When Mary met Jesus,she looked at him,and then fell down at his feet. “If only you had been here,Lord,” she said,”my brother would never have died.”
33 When Jesus saw Mary weep and noticed the tears of the Jews who came with her,he was deeply moved and visibly distressed.
34 “Where have you put him?” he asked. 35 “Lord,come and see,” they replied,and at this Jesus himself wept.
36-37 “Look how much he loved him!” remarked the Jews,though some of them asked,”Could he not have kept this man from dying if he could open that blind man’s eyes?” (JBP)
Grief comes in many forms. It can arise from the loss of a job,moving house,children leaving home (and children coming back home!). It can arise from a bad medical report or the dashing of a long cherished dream. And of course it comes from the death of those we love.
In this passage,Jesus shows us that it is right and proper to grieve,to weep. Those who think the words “don’t cry” are somehow helpful need to take note of Jesus. Crying has never hurt anyone and if we urge people not to do so we are in fact trying to ease our own discomfort. Similarly,any attempt at a quick fix when it comes to grief is misguided. If Jesus was deeply moved and distressed by his grief,chances are that grief is not to be disposed of by a few glib remarks or bible texts.
And yet,in raising Lazarus,he reminds his audience,and us,that no loss is irredeemable. No loss is beyond his rescuing and consoling power. He remains Lord of life even when life turns against us. We grieve,but not hopelessly. We weep,but not endlessly.
We are called to both face up to the reality of loss and the reality of divine consolation. All our losses are so very real and so very painful. But our losses are not the ultimate reality,and the pain is not the ultimate reality. That position is held by the one who both wept at loss and proclaimed his victory over it.