Back in Nain . . .

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Jesus wept.  John 11:35

These two words are familiar to many. We recognize them as the shortest verse in the Bible. It is short, but meaningful. Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend, Lazarus. I wonder why he bothered with tears when he knew he was about to wake up his friend and restore him to his family. I picture this scene in my mind and I can’t help but wish my family could be restored. You too? I “see” you nodding in agreement, for there are many of us who mourn.

If your heart cries out in longing and screams against the injustice that death brings . . . I’m with you. I get it. I understand your pain and I am so sorry for your suffering. Like me, if you have outlived one of your offspring, we know the deep, insatiable pain that has taken up residence in our hearts. We long for life to be put in reverse and take us back to a time when our family was complete, But it doesn’t work that way. . . or did it? The Author of life, who brought Lazarus back to life, was about to do it again. Please read on . . .

The next day, Jesus made His way to the little city of Nain, accompanied by His followers and many other people. As He approached the city gate, a funeral procession was on its way out.

Hit the pause button.

In my collection of  life experiences, more than once I have stopped, while traveling somewhere on any normal day, to let a stream of cars out of the driveway of a funeral home. The lead car, a limo. Each car following behind had a flag fluttering on its antenna. Count the cars. They are many. I let my mind tiptoe . . . for just a moment . . . into what it must be like for the grieving family and friends about now, but soon impatience takes over and I’m eager to be on my way. But let’s linger for just a moment longer. What if you were in one of those vehicles? What if you were in the first one right behind the hearse? Many of us have been and it’s awful. It’s numbing. We aren’t even aware of other cars traveling in the same direction . . . unless we hear a radio blaring in the next lane and its jarring base reminds us that life is running on normal for others. Maybe it’s a beautiful, sunny day, but you don’t notice. Maybe it’s raining buckets, but you’re unaware that you’re getting drenched.Your heart is crushed. Someone you love is taking their final ride to their place of rest and you want to scream in protest!

Maybe that’s how this widow felt. Let’s continue the story. . .

A widow’s only son had died and a large crowd made up of relatives, friends and sympathetic townspeople was following the men carrying the body. Jesus stepped aside to let them by, and as the weeping mother passed, His heart went out in compassion for her.  

Hit the pause button again.

Perhaps you understand what this mother was feeling? Perhaps you’ve been there . . . but she had the advantage, although she didn’t know it yet. Her heart is broken. Her eyes are so full of tears she can hardly make out the face of the man standing right beside her. Let’s read on.

As she looked up at Him, He said, “Don’t cry.” Then He stopped the procession, walked over to the litter on which the body lay, touched it and said, “Young man, I am telling you, Get up!” The young man opened his eyes, sat up and began to talk. Then Jesus presented him to his mother. 

Hit the pause button again.

Sometimes powerful stories, such as this one, are covered so quickly in just a few sentences that they barely have time to sink into our pores. There had to have been many emotions tumbling over one another in this mother’s mind as she stood transfixed, looking into the face of her very-much-alive boy! How could this be? She knew he had died; she felt his cold, lifeless body. She agonized over his death and shuttered against the loneliness that would stalk her remaining days . . . but he’s alive! Can you imagine her joy? Maybe she did cartwheels she was so happy . . . or not, but read on.

The people were dumb with amazement. When they found their tongues, they praised God, saying, ‘”A great prophet has come to visit us. God has not forgotten His people.” The news of what Jesus had done spread throughout Judea and all the regions of Israel.  Luke 7:11-17, The Clear Word

God had not forgotten. Oh how I would have loved to trade places! How I would have loved for Jesus to be in my town and stop my funeral procession and wake up my son! But it was her son. Her joy. Jesus’ joy too. Can you picture his face as he watches the two of them embrace? How wonderful to be Jesus and witness joy between two of his created and reunited children. How wonderful to be Jesus with His power over death!

Some may scoff at this story, but I choose to believe that all Bible stories are true and though from very long ago, still today help to grow our faith. Jesus did heal. He did breathe life back into death. In his presence, death has no power, not then or now. But we can’t reach out and touch Jesus today; not like people could then. As much as I longed for my son’s chest to fill with air and he sit up in his coffin, it didn’t happen. I must wait. I’m impatient, probably like you, but we must wait.

We won’t always be in sorrow. The grief journey is hard and seemingly endless, but it won’t always be so. Just as I believe this story to be true, I also believe that our children will be raised up again with brand new, immortal life and death will be burned up, never to hurt us again. God will swallow up death forever.  The Lord, the Eternal, will wipe away the tears from each and every face and deflect the scorn and shame His people endure from the whole world, for the Eternal determined that it should be so.  Isaiah 25:8, The Voice

Until then, friend, we hope.

Through Him, you’ve been brought to trust in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him for the very reason that your faith and hope are in Him.  1 Peter 1:21, The Voice

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