Jesus Wept

When I was a little girl, I read the Little House books over and over.  One of the scenes that always stood out to me was from On the Banks of Plum Creek when Laura's Sunday school teacher rather condescendingly assigns her the "shortest verse in the Bible" because she is the littlest child in class.  My Christian doctrine education did not focus much on verse memorization, so it was a mystery to me as to what verse was "only two words long."  I did not find out until college that it was from the Gospel of John, chapter 11, verse 35:
Jesus wept.
So simple.  A staple of many Sunday school Bible memorization curricula.  Yet as well-known as the "shortest verse in the Bible" is, Christians are often terrible at consoling others in times of grief.  Those who make a habit of memorizing and reciting Scripture usually prefer to quote verses like Romans 8:18 - "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" - as if somehow the fact that our absent loved ones are in heaven or that we will meet them there one day diminishes the pain of the now.  It's as absurd as the surgeon who says that, because removing our inflamed appendix will eventually make us healthier than ever before, peri-operative pain relief is not needed.

The glory of heaven is indeed a beautiful truth.  It gives us hope and joy in the midst of our sorrow, but it does not and cannot remove the acute pain of the loss.  It merely gives us a direction to walk in as we grieve.

Jesus wept at the tears of Mary, despite His knowledge that before day's end tears would turn to laughter as her brother Lazarus left the tomb and returned to life.

Jesus weeps at the bed that is half-empty, the boys without a mother, the classroom without a teacher, the handbell choir without its upper treble.

Jesus weeps at the parents without a child, the boy without a sister, the university without a student, the promise of youth unfulfilled.

Jesus weeps at those of us left behind even as He rejoices as heaven becomes brighter by two brilliant souls stripped of their sin and shining with the full glory of unmarred creation.

Rest in peace, Jennifer.  Rest in peace, Colleen.  May God comfort those of us left behind, and may we never feel ashamed to grieve the loss of you whom we loved.  It was through expressing that love that we ourselves felt heaven approach, as we tried to emulate the God who is Himself pure Love.



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