Every Sunday School kid quickly learns the shortest verse in the New Testament – “Jesus wept!” It comes in handy when the teacher asks for a quick recitation. But those two words give us a profound insight! John records the story for us in the 11th chapter of his Gospel. Jesus was called to the home of his friend Lazarus who had died. When he arrived in Bethany the dead man’s sisters were angry with him for not showing up earlier to heal their ailing brother. The crowds that gathered whispered about Him – “This man healed a blind man. Why couldn’t he keep Lazarus from dying?” The Master’s response to all this was not detached serenity, nor did He chide His critics for lack of faith! According to John, He was deeply moved by all the pain, the confusion, and the doubts. He cared, not professionally, but personally!
In another passage that is found in Matthew’s Gospel, we read – “Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” ” (Matthew 9:35-38, The Message) He saw their bruised and hurt lives and His heart broke!
Problems, pain, and predicaments are part of life! Sometimes they just arise… we have no idea why; sometimes they come our way because of our choices. Good people – including you and me – make dumb decisions, become victims of the ‘system,’ get deceived by life’s vanities, are mesmerized by devilish lies, and too often choose short-term relief over long-term healing. In my calling as a shepherd for God’s people, my phone rings often and I hear a voice saying – “Help me!” Sometimes the caller has created a mess for herself, snarling life into a tangled web. Other times, the difficulty and/or pain has just dropped on the sufferer out of the blue, uninvited. Some of the situations are relatively easy to resolve, needing only a little counsel. Others appear to have no earthly answer or remedy. Still others are so packed with suffering that it makes me catch my breath and thank God for His grace!
Jesus loves us! He is not a god hiding in the shadows, playing games with us. He is a Friend who comes alongside of us in our suffering. Even when it is our sinful choices that have brought us pain, He does not turn away saying, “you made your bed, now sleep in it!” Instead, if we turn to Him, He forgives and leads us into recovery and healing, into hope and new life. He doesn’t always take away the pain. He doesn’t always give us the miracle we think we need. He gives us grace, wisdom, and patience!
This love of Christ for us, inspires love for others in us, according to John. “We love each other as a result of his loving us first.” (1 John 4:19, NLT) Genuine love that is like that of Jesus, does not let us turn away from those in pain. It does not let us judge others as unworthy of care, leaving them in their predicament! It requires that we weep, that we give when we think that we have no more to give, that we stay engaged with the foolish, the fallen, the stubborn, the stupid. It demands that we offer our hand to the unlovely, the critics, and yes, even to those who take advantage of our love. My prayer is that we will learn to be like Jesus, understanding that sometimes the best expression of love is just to ‘cry with those who cry!’
It’s a broken world out there. Some of you are reading that only to respond – “Out there? No way, Pastor. My life is broken!”
I want you to know – Jesus cares – really, He does. And, I hope that you have someone who loves you with His kind of love – gentle, empathetic, and engaged.
Think on this today — “My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love.” (1 John 4:7-8, The Message)