Kate Hansen – Queen Creek Student Pastor
I do not know if you can ever forget the moments and places you are when you learn of someone’s death.
I was five when my great-grandmother died and I remember the place I stood in my parent’s garage as my mom explained to me what happened. I was ten, standing in the kitchen when my mom told me my uncle died to cancer. I was twenty-two, leading the winter youth group retreat for hundreds of students when I stepped outside to receive the phone call from my Dad that my grandpa passed away. I was twenty-four, standing on a tennis court in South Minneapolis at work, when I learned of my college roommate’s death.
And I was twenty-seven, sitting on the couch in the Gilbert office as I read the text message that a student had passed away.
Nothing really prepares you for these moments. Yes, sometimes with illness or disease we know it will happen, but you always think there is more time. You always assume there is another conversation, another moment to laugh or cry or share with that person. Nothing really prepares you for the last memories with the people you love.
Last year my sister’s boyfriend died in a sudden accident. I remember asking a friend, “What do I even say to her? How do I help? How do you walk alongside and love someone who is grieving?” He encouraged me to read through John 11. In this passage, Jesus models two ways to walk with someone in the midst of grief as he cared for Martha and Mary and the loss of their brother, Lazarus.
First, Jesus spoke truth. He reminded Martha of the promise of what is to come:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
One study found 3,573 different promises in the Bible that we can utilize to speak words of truth and comfort to those that mourn. I have found in the past few months how important it is to remember and memorize these truths. I have specifically reminded myself of Revelation 21:4 that “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Biblical truth is critical in times of sadness and loss. Because we know that our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. It is through these challenges that produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
Secondly, Jesus wept. Mary came to Jesus and he was deeply moved by her emotion and spirit and wept alongside her.
This grieving process for the past few months has not been easy. Somedays are just plain hard as it feels like I deal with death after death of those around me. It has been a season of tears. And most of the time, I want to choose to not show these tears, to appear fine. As Christians, we have this perception that being strong means not showing our sadness and pain. Whenever we see someone go through a tragic situation and if they don’t outwardly show hurt, frustration or anger over what happened, we always say, “wow, look how strong they are.”
But being faithful to Jesus does not mean hiding our tears.
True strength is found in honesty and authenticity.
Jesus wept. John 11:35
My true self, my authentic self, is one right now that is in a place of tears. It is in a season where I choose to weep. Many times I have begun a conversation over the past few months, forewarning those around me, if I talk about this, I am going to cry. As a person who hates to cry, I have come to a place where I realize that tears are part of the process.
But truth has also been so important these past few months. The texts, call, and conversations centered on Jesus and His promises of our future glory in Heaven with Him have been critical to my grieving process. And as friends have asked, how can I walk alongside you and love you well right now? I point them to John 11. Speak truth and remind me of the promises of Jesus. But also weep and mourn and be okay with sadness. With grace and love, copy how Jesus cared for those who are grieving.Click here for the photo credit on this post