He Weeps With Us
April 2, 2020
Reclaiming Lent: 14 days of prayer + fasting
HE WEEPS WITH US
A couple days ago, I went hiking at Pigeon Creek Park in Holland. It was gloriously sunny and I needed the fresh air. As I made my way home, I decided to stop at Meijer on 16th street. I grabbed one of the reusable grocery bags from my trunk, assuring myself that I only needed a couple things for the upcoming week, and then made my way into the store. I regretted that decision at the checkout because once I’d paid for my groceries, I then had to play grocery item Tetris to get everything in the bag. However, I’m great at Tetris so I walked out of Meijer quite proud of my success.
Until I got to my trunk and realized that my wallet was not in the pocket of my leggings. Thinking I’d left it on the self-scan machine, I jogged back into the store only to find that it wasn’t there. I retraced my steps back to the car and pulled everything out of my well-packed grocery bag to no avail. At this point, I was panicking a bit because I, like many people, loathe the hassle of cancelling credit cards and getting a new ID. So, I was quite relieved when I practically met the woman who had found my wallet at the service desk.
The cash was missing but my ID and credits cards were still inside so I considered myself pretty lucky. As I drove back to Grand Rapids, I kept reminding myself again and again that I was lucky to get the wallet back at all. “At least I don’t have to spend hours on the phone cancelling credit cards.” “At least I don’t have to go to Secretary of State for a new ID.” “It could have been worse.” A few hours later when someone tried to use those two credit cards to purchase $500 in lottery tickets and a bunch of gift cards, I revised the script. “At least my debit card wasn’t in there.” “Good thing my social security number wasn’t in there.”
Over the last couple weeks, virtually everyone I’ve spoken to has said some version of these words. As each person recounts the upheaval of their lives – job loss, difficult decisions at work, fights with loved ones, conflicts with colleagues, the utter inability to understand their kids’ math homework, projects and plans that have been suspended, cancelled vacations, postponed ceremonies, concerts, and art exhibits, and the list goes on – nearly every one of them has followed with some version of “…but it could be worse.”
…and I get this response! In fact, I’ve done the exact same thing. Things could be worse. Things could always be worse.
…but can we admit that things aren’t good?!?
We can admit that things aren’t good…
…when graduating seniors don’t get to mark their hard work and achievements with ceremonies.
…when all the work that when into that project may not pay off after all.
…when people lose their jobs.
…when people have to haggle over decisions of which good workers to let go.
…that some businesses won’t reopen.
…when people are suffering and dying.
…when sick people are being sent home untested due to lack of available tests.
…when frontline healthcare workers don’t have the supplies or relief they need to keep up with the demands of this pandemic.
Things could always be worse…
…but we can admit when things aren’t good…
…and isn’t that the place where God meets us?!?
The Psalmist declares that God “…heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). We see this exemplified in the person of Christ when he encounters two sisters – Mary and Martha – mourning the untimely death of their brother Lazarus (John 11). What you might notice in this story is that Jesus doesn’t dismiss their grief, nor does he minimize their grief, nor does he trivialize their grief, nor does he remind them that things could be worse. Instead, he meets their broken hearts in the way that only God can: He weeps with them and then he brings healing, restoration, and renewal.
In his own weeping, Jesus gives us permission to weep and to mourn the loss of that which matters to us. I think this tells us that we can’t quite get to healing, restoration, and renewal without grappling with the losses and disappointments associated with life in a broken and sinful world – proper mourning is, in the very least, along the path to healing, restoration, and renewal.
For today, I invite you to take the time to simply acknowledge the losses and disappointments that you’ve experienced over the last few weeks. Like Martha, carry those losses and disappointments before our Triune God who loves us so much that He weeps with us. …but not just with us, He weeps with the whole world. So, on behalf of those around you, and maybe even those who can’t yet pray for themselves, I also invite you to offer up their losses and disappointments as well. In this, you start down the path to healing, restoration, and renewal.
In Christ, we belong to the God who brings new life out of death.
In Christ, hope springs forth from the ashes of our shattered lives.
…and it’s because of this that we can mourn
…but also that we never mourn alone
grace and peace,