and in his weeping,
he joined himself forever
to those who mourn.
He stands now throughout all time,
this Jesus weeping,
with his arms about the weeping ones:
‘Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.’
He stands with the mourners,
for his name is God-with-us.”
—Ann Weems, Psalms of Lament
On a number of occasions, I have used these words from Ann Weems to offer words of comfort to those who were weeping. As you well know, we have been doing a lot of crying lately. Tears of loss. Thinking of those we have loved who are no longer physically with us, looking for them in the places where they would sit or be, or something triggers a memory, and without warning, tears push up into our eyes.
Tears of grief, still raw from the loss, where we walk into a room expecting to see her/him, or we pick up the phone anticipating her/his voice, but the silence and absence only mock our sense of their presence. So many tears.
Tears of heartbreak. Dreams die in their own peculiar way, but their death is as real and as painful as any other loss. Things we had hoped for didn’t materialize the way we thought it would. Life has a way of cheating us all before it’s over. When hearts break open, tears fall out.
Perhaps of all the promises of Scripture, none is more extravagant than the words we hear in Revelation: “…and God will wipe way every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17). Our initial thought might well be how wonderful that would be, but giving the matter second thoughts, are we really sure we want them wiped away? While our tears may pain us, are they not also our mementos of our loss, priceless treasures because we have at least known and loved someone deep enough to cry over?
When John’s gospel lifted up that moment between Jesus and the reality of His friend’s Lazarus death, it reminds us that only one who knows the infinite cost of tears can be trusted with our tears. Jesus knows what it is to weep, just as He knows the extravagant costliness and gentleness of wiping away tears. God knows the value of our tears!
Not only can I live with that, I will live with that! Thanks be to God!
See you Sunday!
Gary L. West