This week I have teared up in a restaurant and in the basement of our church and in the minivan.
It’s been a bit of a cry-fest frankly. And it doesn’t stop there. I’ve been ready to cry over documentaries and books about wars fought between 70 and 150 years ago.
Seriously. A war documentary made me cry.
I don’t normally consider myself a “cryer,” but this week has been a week of sad news for those around me. I mourn with the brokenhearted wife, with the brokenhearted mother, with the brokenhearted family.
And I find my heart a little battered and bruised just by feeling the weight of sorrow: the divorce, the goodbyes, the mourning, and the prodigals. It’s been tenderized by a hammer of hurt, so now I’m in need of tissues everywhere I go.
Maybe that’s the way it should be, though.
Not that people should be hurting or going through hard times and not that I need to carry a box of Kleenex with me, but that we should be gentle enough to notice, compassionate enough to care, and tenderhearted enough to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep.
Jesus did that, as He stood just outside his friend Lazarus’s tomb and the Savior and Messiah heard the wails of those in grief. That’s when we read those two powerful words:
Jesus wept (John 11:35).
He didn’t wail and scream like those around them. He wasn’t in despair and He knew He’d see Lazarus walk out of that tomb within a few minutes.
But He felt compassion for the crowd and so His tears fell because these people were hurting and because they felt overwhelmed by deep sorrow.
Do we weep also?
Do our hearts break at the brokenheartedness around us?
Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32 NASB)
May that be us. Oh, may we be the ones covering others with kindness, forgiveness, and caring.
But if that is us, what then?
Jesus walked right up to Lazarus’s tomb and demanded resurrection. He brought life to the dead simply by the power of His words.
As much as I wish I could say the word and heal the hurts of those around me, mend the marriages, raise the dead, carry the prodigal home, I cannot. I cannot fix the broken or mend the mess.
But our compassion does still matter.
It propels us into kindness, practical acts that make a difference.
It stirs us to intercession and passionate prayer on the behalf of others.
It compels us to share the heart of Jesus, who wept when others wept.
It emboldens us to share with others the reminder that this is our God: the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
That’s what Paul said:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV).
God’s very character is that of compassion and comfort. He never wastes the stories of our own pain, those times we ourselves trudged through valleys of hurt or sorrow. He redeems those hard seasons by carrying us through them and then allowing us to be that comfort and that compassion for others in the future.
And as much as suffering abounds, God’s comfort abounds, too. He is close in our times of need.
He draws us in. He hides us away in places of refuge. He holds our tears in a bottle, never missing even one of them. He sends others to care for us.
And then He sends us out to care for others.
How can we minister to the hurting this week?