The shortest verse in the Bible reveals that Christ feels our pain. Losing a loved one is the hardest thing we have to go through in this life. Whether it is after a long illness, old age or an unexpected accident — death is heartbreaking. As Christians, we cling with all of our hearts to the promise of seeing loved ones on the other side in Heaven.
But, does Jesus really understand our grief? We know that He died for us, so He does understand emotional and physical suffering — the feeling of being betrayed and wrongly accused — but does He empathize with us from experience?
Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was very beloved by Jesus when He walked the earth. When Lazarus died, Jesus knew it. “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” (John 11:14). Then He and his disciples walked to the home of Mary and Martha. “Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11-20-26).
Now Martha did believe this. Like us today, she knew that one day she would see her loved one again. “Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.” (John 11:32-35).
Of all the wonderful and glorious words that Jesus spoke, one of the most healing to my heart in times of loss are these two little words, “Jesus wept.” It not only tells me, but it shows me that my Lord truly does know my pain and my suffering when someone dies. He is not only there to listen, to love and to comfort, but He understands what I am going through.
“Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” (John 11:36-37). Even seeing Jesus weeping over the death of Lazarus, there were those who wanted to criticize; those who had no compassion; those who were only there to see a show.
“Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (John 11:38-40).
During this period of grieving, Jesus did what we all should do. He prayed. “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:41-42).
Then what a wonderful miracle He performed. “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.” (John 11:43-46).
During our times of grief, the Lord places people in our lives, to help us, comfort us and love us. He Himself knows our pain, and He helps us during our time of greatest need. As the loss overwhelms us, precious memories and time with loved ones provide a balm to our hearts. He also knows that our grief is only temporary if our loved one is a believer in Him. Tell your loved ones about Christ.