Jesus knows the pain of grief.
It is true that God has a purpose for all of our pain and all of our grief. In Christ, we can rejoice that one day all of our tears will be wiped away and we will no longer know the pain of grief. However, acknowledging that God has a purpose in all of our grief does not remove the sting that comes along with the loss of something that or someone whom you dearly love. During his earthly life, Jesus grieved and was known as a man of sorrows. He intimately knew the sting of grief and loss. Isaiah 53:3-5, speaking of Jesus, reads:
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
When one of Jesus’ dear friends, Lazarus, died of a seemingly preventable illness, Jesus knew that there was a purpose in it. But when he approached Lazarus’ grieving sisters and finally his grave, Jesus was brought to tears. In his head, Jesus knew that, in just a few moments, the pain that he and his friends were experiencing was going to be reversed. Yet, in his spirit, he was deeply moved and greatly troubled. He wept moments before raising his friend from the dead. God was glorified both in Jesus’ tears and in Jesus’ action of raising Lazarus from the dead.
A second experience in the life of Jesus came in the Garden of Gethsemane as he grieved his own upcoming death. Again, Jesus knew that there was a purpose for the pain and loss that he was about to experience. He even knew that his pain would be undone and that he would be raised from the dead in power and glory. Before the foundations of the earth were laid, it was determined that God would become a man and undergo great pain and suffering in order to rescue His people from their sins. Yet, in that dreadful garden, Jesus bitterly wept and cried out in agony to his Father. Although Jesus was certain that there was a purpose in the suffering that he was about to undergo, he still felt the sting of grief.
The passage from Isaiah also highlights the interpersonal effects of grief. The emotional toll of losing something that or someone who is dear to us is more than enough, but grief can also change the way that people look at us. Others may look at you differently after you experience material loss or lose a loved one. Jesus knew that feeling very well. During his earthly life, culminating in the ultimate humiliating loss that was his death on the cross, he lived as one from whom men hide their faces. He knows the feeling of isolation that grief brings.
What then can you do with the sting of grief? When all you want to do is hide from the world, hide yourself in him. Jesus experienced grief so that he could sympathize with the pain that his people feel as sufferers living in a broken world. When everything on earth fails to comfort your grieving heart, look to heaven. The One who sits on the throne is the one who has come down to suffer, just like you and me. He is not coldhearted and far away; he is near to the brokenhearted and grieving.
Yours in Christ,