As Christians, we sometimes feel guilty when we grieve for the loss of loved ones. That's because we are told that we are suppose to rejoice when our Christian loved ones go to see the Lord. It's true that we should have joy in the fact that our dear departed has now left the pain and troubles of this world behind. But it's also true that death is not natural. All of that crap about death being part of life is nothing but a bunch of hogwash. If you believe that, then you need to go back and start over in your Bible reading. The Bible tells us a very different truth about that.
Here's something that I wrote on this topic. Maybe it will help us to explore this issue further.
GO AHEAD AND CRY!
Christians are often questioned for crying during times of loss and grief, like when a loved one dies. We are told by well meaning, but misguided well-wishers that we should not be sad. We should not weep for those who have died, because our loved ones are now with the Lord in heaven. Certainly this should comfort us and console us greatly, but I do not agree with brethren who say that we should not weep and cry at such a time. Here’s why I believe differently.
Death is not natural. It is unnatural. God created man for eternity. He was not appointed to die. It was not until man and creation fell into sin that death entered God’s creation (Genesis 2:17). Death stalks mankind throughout our lives. Death separates us from those that we love, not forever but for now. It is only natural then that our reaction to the separation and horror that is death is to weep.
The Bible is full of examples of God’s faithful servants who mourn for their dead. Genesis 50:1 shows us Joseph weeping for his dead father, Jacob. Deuteronomy 34:8 shows us the children of Israel weeping for Moses after his death. But the most important example is Jesus himself. Luke 19:41-42 shows us Jesus weeping for the city of Jerusalem. It says, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.” He goes on to prophesy about the destruction of this city, and the deaths of many of its inhabitants, at the hands of the Roman legions. He saw the deaths of many in his mind’s eye, and he wept, as a father weeps for his children.
The most significant, and poignant example of Jesus weeping for the dead is the story of Lazarus. I always think of Lazarus as a young man, although scripture doesn’t tell us his age. He was known and loved by Jesus (Jn. 11:3). Jesus knew and loved this whole family (Jn. 11:5). He had been a guest in their home many times. Perhaps he had watched Lazarus grow up, during his travels and ministry. When Jesus saw Mary and Martha in grief, weeping for their lost brother, he wept also. He joined them in their grief. Why did he weep? He knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from his grave. The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus had intentionally waited for Lazarus to die, before coming to Bethany (Jn. 11:4, 11:11). He knew that he was going to raise him from the dead, as a demonstration of his power and identity as the Son of God, the Messiah. So why did he now weep? I think he wept because he was not only God. He was also man. He wept, because men and women weep when their hearts are overcome with grief. They weep when they share in the grief of others whom they love. We weep because God has created us with the capacity to Love. Our weeping is a physical manifestation (flesh) of the sorrow that we feel in our hearts (spirit) when we lose Love. In other words, we weep because we Love. If we did not love, then for what would we weep? For whom would we weep? Perhaps Jesus wept for another reason also. Perhaps he wept because he knew that Lazarus would also die again someday. His raising of Lazarus was only temporary, after all. Someday, he would have to die all over again. He would have to suffer all over again. Maybe Jesus also wept for him because his need for a demonstration of God’s power would cost Lazarus another death. We can only guess why Jesus wept. But he did. Jesus wept (Jn 11:35). Since he wept, we may be assured that weeping is not weakness, it is not sin, it is Christ like.
So go ahead and cry. There is no blame in it. There is no weakness in it. It is just a part of life and of humanity, as long as we do not hide in it, as long as we do not replace our faith with grief. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything (Ecc. 3), “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” Let’s not be afraid to weep, when we should weep. Let’s not forget to dance, when it is time to dance with delight before the Lord. Let’s not be afraid to embrace each other, when we should embrace. Let’s not miss a chance to Love, ever, in our lives. Every chance to Love comes just once. Only regret will abide with us, if we do not Love at every chance.
April 4, 2008