I had a conversation with a friend about grief recently. I walked away from that conversation wondering how many people never really grieve? As a culture we don’t have any built in grief prompts. Sure, we go to a funeral, often see an open casket, and spend time with family. But after the funeral it’s back to normal, everyday life. Our culture doesn’t have any guard rails to keep people from veering into a grief spiral. We move so quickly, we think grief, among other real needs, don’t matter. It does.
Instead of allowing our culture to shape our views on grief, let’s take a look at our Savior. Jesus spent time weeping. Did you realize that? And it wasn’t because the market crashed or because He had to spend more than He was accustomed to on groceries. Jesus wept because one of His best friends died. He wept because the man’s family was sad and that grieved Him, too. Jesus wept.
This all took place around the death of Lazarus. Jesus got word about Lazarus’ sickness two days before He made the journey to see him. He did this knowing that His wait would result in Lazarus’ death. Jesus’ concern was not so much about preserving Lazarus’ life, but about giving God glory through His gift of life. He knew Lazarus’ would be alive either here or in Heaven. He knew His friend was going to come stumbling out of that tomb when He called his name. Yet He still wept. Why? Because Jesus loved him and He was gone. Jesus grieved.
Listen to me. Grief is a natural process for every person and it will be different for every person. Some of you will weep uncontrollably for days, even weeks. Others will cry a little and be relatively ok. Some of you will have the hardest time in the hospital room when the person is still alive. Others will struggle most with cleaning out their room. For still others the greatest struggle will be the funeral itself. There are no rules when you have to grieve. The only rule is that you must grieve.
I know people who take pills to keep them from the grief process, or to ‘get them through’ the funeral. You know what happens? You still have to face the same process when you come off the pills. Your body needs to grieve! Let it. It’s ok to share some inmost thoughts with a friend. It’s ok to cry in public. It’s ok to take a few days off from work. Grief is real and taxing. Take a lesson from Jesus and be moved.
Just a couple years after that Jesus watched His friends and family grieve His own death. He heard His mother’s cries, watched the turmoil in His friends eyes and nurtured the one who hung next to Him in his own grief. Even in His death, Jesus took care of those He loved.
On the morning of His resurrection, His friends were gathering for the next step in the grief process. They were coming to take care of His body. With spices in hand, these ladies made their way to the tomb, only to find it empty. Mary stood weeping. Once again, Jesus was the one to comfort her. All it took was for Him to call her name and all was right with the world again.
The beauty of Easter is Jesus is still calling us by name. Christianity is the only religion in the world that celebrates the fact that God came to us, instead of us, the created, trying to figure out how to get to Him. We celebrate because He embraces us, comforts us, invites us to His party and the opens the door for that party to last for eternity.
Whatever grief you are facing this week, I pray you will allow Jesus to embrace you. He is alive! The good news is that because He lives you and I can, too! I pray you will not allow your grief and darkness to overshadow the life and light that He offers you. If He is detailed and aware enough to meet Mary in the garden just to comfort her, He is able to meet you where you are. He will care for you. Let’s celebrate Him this weekend!