I’ve long been impressed by the power of the shortest verse in the Bible.
“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35
The verse has been in many sermons over the years. Every time I’ve heard the verse used it was in the context of showing Jesus’ humanity and that it shows He knew pain like we know pain. It’s certainly valid to hold that position and I will not deny it’s a very truthful way to look at the passage.
But I see it another way.
My last 18 months have been what most people would politely call “a challenge.” I went over a year without a job. I lost my marriage. I had to move from a town I absolutely loved to a town I really didn’t want to live in. It’s been a valley that just seems to go deeper and deeper to the point I think I might need tested for Radon.
It’s during this time I’ve probably shed more tears than I did when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. There were days where it took all the energy I had just to make it another 24 hours.
I have some wonderful friends who have been there for me throughout the process. I can’t put into the words the value of having these folks there for me in the darkest times. A surprise gift card to a restaurant my son loved to visit. A book that I was dying to read would appear in the mail. Someone would invite me to hang out, chat and drink hot chocolate with a shot of vanilla. Their kind words, deeds and just being there many times was the physical manifestation of God’s love.
But there were times that I didn’t want to talk. Didn’t need to talk. I just needed to be.
Just to sit there and cry a bit.
Just to let the emotion pour out without having to verbalize, analyze or proselytize.
And that’s what Jesus did when he stood at the tomb of Lazarus and cried.
He didn’t preach a sermon.
He didn’t stand there and tell the sisters it was going to be fine.
Yes, he did those things at other times…but not in that moment.
In that moment, Jesus knew the best thing to do was be silent and let the emotions go.
And it wasn’t just a minute or two. It was long enough that those standing around commented to each other about how much Jesus loved Lazarus.
He knew the power of the silence and the tears.
When we have friends facing difficult situations, our natural instinct is to rush in with uplifting words or other expressions of hope.
Instead, find ways to bring them out of the sadness and pull them up into a happier place.
Some of my greatest moments of friendship have come by sitting in silence and crying with friends. Because it helps to know someone else also recognizes the hurt. It seems, sometimes, you just need to let the hurt out before you can get back on your feet and move forward again.
Don’t be afraid of the silence and the tears.