Every day, when I open the cupboard to get a mug for coffee, I glance at a picture taped to the inside. It was taken on the day of our daughter’s funeral, a beautiful September day 13 years ago. I’m in the middle, my eyes tiny slits from shock, lack of sleep, and unspeakable grief. Four friends surround me, their arms interlocking with mine. All these years later, they haven’t let go.
Those women knew the sacrifice of walking with me through grief, and they still didn’t hesitate. For over a decade they have stood by my side. Along the way they’ve taught me that drawing near to others may not be easy, but it’s exactly what Jesus teaches us to do for one another.
The shortest verse in the Bible is recorded in John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” It was a bit of a joke when I was a kid, because no matter who you were, you could at least have that one memorized. But those two words are profound. Jesus showed such deep emotion on the day He went to see Mary and Martha after the death of their brother Lazarus. Have you ever stopped to really think about it?
At this stage in my life—after living with my own intense sorrow and walking with others through theirs—there are several parts of this story that cause me to fall in love with Jesus all over again, because He shows His deep humanness and empathy. Jesus fully grieved with Mary and Martha in the shock of the death of their brother. He didn’t rush past the sorrow, but He settled into it. He allowed Himself to lock arms with His friends. When Mary came to Him, she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if you had been her, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Jesus didn’t get defensive but was deeply moved at her words. Isaiah 53:3 names Jesus as a “Man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (NLT). If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s this: In grief, Jesus draws near.
Each September, the sorrow of losing my daughter rests a little heavier on me. I’m not alone. No one is immune to the grief of this world. The picture taped to my cupboard reminds me that, like Jesus, there are times we weep. We surround others and we allow others to surround us. May you feel His presence in your life today as Jesus draws near to heal our broken hearts.