Death is arguably the most difficult thing we face. Maybe it’s the seeming finality of death that is so hard or the absence of the one we care about. Every other pain we experience in our life seems treatable, preventable, repairable, or at least tolerable. For many followers of Christ, the moment we realize a loved one is really gone is when we experience our deepest doubts of God.
It can happen days, weeks, months, or years later. Our prayers turns into questions, “God, how could You let this happen?” and, “Are you even listening?” and, “Do you care?” and, “Are you even there at all?” Our praise turns into stark accusations against God. When close friends and followers of Jesus—Mary and Martha—told him their brother Lazarus was sick and dying, Jesus did not come. Even though He was only a day’s walk away, Jesus let Lazarus die, then let Mary and Martha grieve alone before finally coming.
When He did arrive, Lazarus was already sealed in a grave. Mary stayed home, and Martha let Jesus know that He was late. Then, Jesus called for Mary, who came weeping. When Martha told Jesus he could have kept Lazarus from death, Jesus responded, “… I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die … ” How powerful!
When Mary wept, Jesus wept. Jesus’ tears paint not only a picture of a God who hurts when we hurt, but also a God who hurts because we hurt. He is not the origin of death and separation. He understands, better than we, the true effects of death in the world and life He created for us.
While He doesn’t stop pain from happening to us, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt Him too. We know Jesus wept right before he brought Lazarus back to life. He also knows that for whoever believes in Him—including people we love—death is not permanent, and life with Him is eternal.
Does it still hurt when people die? Yes. Does God hurt with us? Yes.
When you lost a loved one, how were your thoughts of God? How are your thoughts of God now?
If you are still hurting, turn to God now. It took me two years to present myself to God and how I was feeling. It took me two months to bring myself to finish this series. The grace flowed through me like a ragging river.
Know that He hurts with you and weeps with you.