Weep with those that weep

On December 26th, a dear friend of mine passed away. 

She gave me fair warning that, after a 5 year battle with cancer, her life was quickly coming to an end. And I prepared for her departure, but her passing still left me in a state of pain. 

The last time I was able to visit with her in person (I’ve lived 300 miles away since 2014), was in September. She had asked me to go through her late daughter’s memory boxes with her, as her daughter, Beth, was my childhood best friend

It was bittersweet to relive the Valentine’s Day parties, the birthday sleepovers, and summer adventures together as we sorted through Beth’s keepsakes. It was impossible to fight back the tears, so I didn’t try. Then my friend turned to me, suddenly, and asked the all-dreaded question : what is the point of it all anyway? 

I don’t think she meant for me to respond with an answer. Besides, the sincerity in her voice left me speechless. All I could do in that moment was look back at her, through tear-filled eyes,  with a spirit of gentleness beyond my own understanding. 

What is the point of it all?

How many of us have been so broken down as to be left feeling god-forsaken, and pondering the point of our life lived here?

I’ve been a believer since I was 3 years old, and without shame I confess that I have. 

Maybe you have too. 

When I was smack dab in this place of feeling godforsaken,  the very last thing I wanted from those witnesses to my pain was an answer. Not from another human being anyway. Even when those who cry out in their suffering are doing so by asking the questions of life, only the Creator of life holds the answer.

I take much comfort that even the only begotten Son of God cried out in His sufferings: 

“At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'”

Mark 15:34 (NRSV)

We can tuck our human compassion away and wax theological here at what it meant for Jesus to cry out in this way, or, we can sit with the frightening reality that even Jesus Christ felt forsaken by God

I choose the latter. 

There are sufferings in this world that are beyond our understanding. But they do not extend beyond our ability to empathize with. 

When Paul admonishes believers to “weep with those who weep”, in Romans 12:15, maybe we ought to do just that. What if we all intentionally stepped away from the temptation to paint the Christian life as one full of victory in Jesus, and seek to enter into the passion of the crucified Christ instead?

In a world still full of suffering and grief, maybe the greatest gift we can give to those that mourn are not cookie cutter answers, but a sharing in their tears. 

The last words exchanged between my dear friend and I, several days before her death, where ones of peace –detailing her intentional surrender as she approached death. She left this world in “amazement at the wonder of it all”. 

If only I can muster that kind of bravery when I’m called to go forth from this life! I pray that I too will receive with amazement the gift of rest awaiting all of those that have cried out to God. 

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8 thoughts on “Weep with those that weep

      1. Yes, and the advice is two words.

        Shut up

        I don’t mean that to sound trite either, but seriously sometimes I just have to zip it and simply…be there. I stole that from Barbara up the chain there.

        On a serious advice note, though, it takes a very intentional effort when you are a fixer; like many things this won’t change by random chance. I literally have to tell myself…don’t talk, don’t talk, don’t talk.

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  1. It occurred to me this week in dealing with my sister’s loss of her little boy that we both have to climb a mountain of grief but it’s not the same mountain, her mountain is so much higher. That was helpful as it made me realise I can’t carry her up the mountain myself even though I care so much for her and it’s so hard to see her in such pain. She needs to be enabled to climb her own mountain and in order to so I can walk beside her and help carry the burden by sharing in the mourning and tears. I think by me demonstrating compassion that allows her to be present in the grief which does eventually bring healing albeit slow and pain filled. The things I have to say are often meaningless anyway as her faith and mine are not in the same place.

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  2. Liberty, I love that analogy. Because the truth is that grief is personal. It’s a path that we have to walk ourselves, one excruciating step at time. But at the same time, we don’t have to make that journey alone. The compassionate presence of others can strengthen us to carry on when we feel most sapped of strength.

    My husband and I lost two pregnancies the past two years– a son and a daughter. Before this, I was no stranger to death and loss– but grief is different when it is over the loss of a child. It’s infinitely more personal, as it is also the death of all the hopes and dreams you had for that child. The people that helped me the most in my grief were the people that gave me room in their compassionate presence to let me express the sorrow of my heart. I didn’t realize how few people know how to do that before I needed someone to give that gift to me… and I’m telling you, without it, my journey would have been much more difficult. I also think of the story in John chapter 10, where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. In it, we have the shortest most powerful verse in Scripture: “Jesus wept.” (John 10:35). What has always stuck me here is that instead of trying to convince those that we’re mourning of the futility of their sorrow (I mean, He was about to raise him from the dead here, so He could have), Jesus wept with them instead. It’s powerful stuff.

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