Jesus Wept- Responding to Tragedy
by George San Miguel
Like everyone I struggle with seeing all the pain and heartache in the news. I struggle with having an appropriate response. What should our response be? How do we live and act as people who have hope? How do we share the Light to a darkened world?
As I was praying about these things and what to say, one verse kept coming to mind…”Jesus wept”.
In John chapter 11 we learn how Jesus reacts not only to the death of Lazarus but those who are with Him. What is Jesus’ response to tragedy?
“The sickness will not end in death..”
This was told to his disciples and to those that delivered the message. Imagine the conflicting feelings they had when they thought Lazarus wasn’t going to die and then seeing a crowd mourning his death. Could you imagine their internal struggle as they were trying to reconcile those events? Have you ever felt like you don’t see the promises of God? I know I have. Many times I have been in situations where I thought God had abandoned me or at the very least questioning the purpose of my calling.
“Lord, if you had been here…”
Both Martha and Mary said this to Jesus. This statement is filled with faith and doubt. But the essence of this statement is something that many of us struggle with. We believe that God can do miracles, but “only if you were here”…..Why weren’t You here???
It’s very easy to ask those questions in times of tragedy. We see the hurt not only in the world around us but close to us as well. As a father, when I see children getting killed at school, it breaks me up inside because I have kids and I couldn’t imagine losing one of them. Everytime I see updates about the Ukrainian war, I think about the pain my Russian and Ukrainian friends are going through. When I see people hate someone from another race I am sickened. When I hear stories of abuse, especially those that happen inside the church I am disgusted to no end. Pain and grief is all around us.
Yet we are people with hope. We know in the end Jesus will make all things right. He will wipe every tear from our eye and pain and suffering will be no more. He has given us the promise of salvation and the promise of Heaven. Through Him, we will be victorious over all ills of this life. So how do we respond knowing this. For me it can be easy to keep these things at arms-length. I am very good at compartmentalizing and not letting those events into my heart. I often will write this off as “faith” knowing that Jesus will get it all worked out in the end. But in reality, I’m really just choosing not to think about it. It’s important that we acknowledge the tension between the promises of God and the pain we see around us. How do we process this in light of who God is?
Jesus was there
When Jesus got to Lazarus’ Tomb He saw the pain and grief around him and “He Wept”. Verse 33 says “He was deeply moved in His spirit and troubled”. Luke 19:41 describes another instance where Jesus wept. During His Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, it tells us when He saw the city he wept, ultimately, because they did not know what was to come.
You see Jesus knew before-hand that Lazarus was going to die, He also knew that Lazarus was going to be resurrected days later and most importantly Jesus knew that His own death and resurrection would bring new life for all. Knowing all of that, he cried with those that were crying and was deeply saddened by the lack of hope around Him.
We can see now in this story that God had a plan all along. We see Jesus show His power over death and give hope to a hopeless world. We see this time and time again throughout the entirety of the Bible. Knowing all of this, “How do we, as Christians, respond to tragedies?”
First, fully acknowledge what’s going on. We can not disengage or brush these things off because they are too hard to deal with. We need to take our feelings, struggles and tensions to God and let Him heal our hearts.
Second, empathize and grieve with those who are grieving. It’s not the time to argue politics or personal rights, but we need to truly see those that are hurting and love them with Jesus’ love.
Last, share that there is hope! People need to know that Jesus is the only one that will bring them peace. I couldn’t imagine dealing with these horrific tragedies without knowing that God holds everything in His Hands.
These situations are bigger than all of us. Unfortunately, I don’t have solutions, but what I do have is Jesus. So when we are hurting, go to Jesus. When we are in the depths of despair, go to Jesus. And, when we are struggling to make sense of the tragedies around us, cry out to JESUS!
John 16:33- I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
George San Miguel is an Elder at the Wallingford Expression of the Hallows Church. He is a Financial Advisor, lover of BBQ, husband to Courtney and a Father of two.