32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Jn 11:32–44).
A good friend lays dying today, and I find myself unexpectedly weeping throughout the day. I am learning how to mourn well, to the glory of God. We speak about the glory of God often in our church. We should. But I wonder if a strong emphasis on the glory of God may in fact hinder us from weeping. God’s sovereignty in all things means that, though we are surprised by suffering, He never is. It is all part of His plan (Though true, I am not sure that is the most comforting doctrine in the moment–though it is a powerful source of peace). The fact of God’s sovereignty should not take away from the sorrow that suffering brings. Let us not avoid emotion and tear-lessly declare, “God has a plan.” Weeping at loss is not a sign of a confession of one’s faithlessness (or forgetfulness of the eternal perspective) but quite the opposite. It is a bold recognition of sin and a cry for a savior to redeem us.
I have recently been struck by Jesus’ example in John 11. Jesus good friend Lazarus has died. He arrives on the scene to a family mourning their loss. Now, if there was anyone who understood the glory of God, anyone who lived with an eternal perspective, anyone who knew what was going to happen next (he would raise Lazarus from the dead), it was Jesus. Yet, Jesus was deeply moved. Jesus was troubled. Jesus cried.
I pray that our church will not hide their emotion behind a theology. We grieve, but we grieve differently.
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.1 Th 4:13–14.