How do we make sense of the senseless?
A bus full of tourists blows up in Bulgaria.
A child is diagnosed with cancer.
Movie-goers experience a violent reality instead of the fiction they expected to see.
Bombs kill worshippers in African churches.
A teenager take his own life.
Since I cannot make sense of things like these, it helps me to focus on that which I do understand.
And this is what I know: We can trust the heart of God.
I know that because God has revealed his heart to us throughout Scripture. Even in the sad realities of life on this fallen earth, God shows his heart to be loving, gracious and merciful.
The story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead is particularly illuminating.
John 11 tells the story of Jesus and his friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Lazarus was dangerously ill, so Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that “the one you love is sick” (v. 3). The obvious suggestion was that Jesus should come to them and heal Lazarus. After all, Jesus had healed thousands of strangers, surely he would do the same for the “one he loves.”
But he didn’t.
Instead, Jesus waited a couple of days and only went to Mary and Martha as they mourned their brother’s death.
Both women greeted Jesus with this statement: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (v. 21 & 32)
Mary and Martha understood that Jesus was Lord, the Christ, and that he had power over life and death. (By the way, I love the solid theology of these two women. They had no doubt learned it at the feet of Jesus himself, which was quite progressive for women in first century Jerusalem.) Interestingly, Jesus and Martha engaged the situation intellectually, (see v. 21-27) while Mary simply expressed her emotions and wept at his feet (v. 32-34.)
When Jesus saw Mary and those with her weeping, “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Mary then took Jesus to the tomb of his friend Lazarus.
People at the tomb of Lazarus asked the same sorts of questions that we ask. Why didn’t Jesus prevent this? Why did this happen? Where was he a few days ago?
It is the shortest verse in the Bible, but it speaks volumes.
I imagine Jesus, Creator of heaven and earth, standing at the grave of his friend and feeling the full force of the human emotions of grief, loss, pain, and anger. Things in this world are not as they should be, and he knew the glory and perfection of what should be. Evil, disease, poverty, hatred and violence are not, and never were, God’s desire for the world; they are the result of human sin.
Jesus raised Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, in a demonstration of his power over sin, death and all that should not be. Not long after this event, Jesus himself would be crucified, die an excruciating death and rise in victory guaranteeing the future restoration of this damaged world to all that it should be.
Jesus knows what it is like to grieve, to weep, and to experience evil. God knows how it feels to watch his Son suffer and die. Why did God permit such a thing?
Because he loves us.
Therefore, we can trust his heart.
What helps you cope with tragic events? Do you trust the heart of God?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:35
and we weep with Jesus again…as details of the shooting and killing in Milwaukee come to us…please consider the words of the late Robert F. Kennedy when he spoke of the “Mindless Menace of Violence”…
I enjoyed reading the post Judy. Jesus wept, such a short verse yet it says so much. Thanks.
When we sit at the base of the cross of anyone’s tragedy, it is important to send Grace, Light, or Love to those who are suffering and transitioning. It has a double benefit. Since you are the channel through which this goodness flows, it helps both you the giver and the receiver.
I know that the perception of caring is assumed when we see someone crying. However, when we wallow in other people’s pain, it just adds to the misery and confusion of the moment.
You rasie an interesting and helpful distinction. As you point out, when someone is stuck in a pit, to jump in and get stuck with them is no help. I also agree that there is a difference between appropriate expressions of empatthy and grief and unhelpful wallowing. But, in my opinion, weeping does not necessarily mean wallowing. Sometimes crying is a perfectly appropriate response – I guess we need to prevent it from becoming wallowing. Thanks so much for your thoughts!
I agree that crying is an appropriate response and that people need to allow these emotions to be expressed in order to maintain psychological health. Bottling or stuffing emotions is never a good idea.
The practice of channeling Grace, Light, Love, Peace, Hope is an advanced energy practice that anyone can learn. It was used by Mother Mary and company at the base of the cross. It turns feeling helpless into feeling like you have done something worthwhile to help.
great blog as always, what happened to the old gravatar – miss that inquiring look of you leaning on one arm behind the computer.
Well, I just wanted to change it up a bit, but my husband had the same reaction as yours. So I changed it back. Thanks for the feedback:)
I did not mean to hit the enter key just then!!
Or maybe the Spirit has told me I have said all I need to say?
See you around the blogs, Judy.
Hi, Judy –
As so often happens, I ‘stumbled’ on your blog through another’s post.
Blinking twice when I saw your title here. Currently I am reading a novel based on Jesus’ life through the eyes of his mother Mary. Minutes before finding your blog and post, I read the Lazarus story. I think I was ‘mysteriously’ led here! What do you think?
The book beside me, on the couch, is titled “Jesus Wept” – is God trying to tell me something??!
Well, that is very interesting! I love that God does that sort of thing. Do you have any ideas about what God is saying through this? Thanks so much for stumbling onto my blog and for sharing how you got here! (I’ll have to check out that book.)
Powerful words. We can trust his heart because he loves us. I think this is key to the reason we often struggle in the midst of suffering. It’s not that we don’t understand there is suffering in this world – it’s that we feel that somehow it means God doesn’t love us. That he doesn’t want the best for us – or that he’s abandoned us. And we slowly learn that ‘the best’ is a relationship with him, where we reside close to his ever-giving heart, no matter what the circumstances. Thanks so much for this.
Thank you for shedding light on the simple verse ‘Yeshua wept’, it was really illuminating. There are so many parts of the Bible which help me to understand why I and others go through what we go through here on earth, really too many for me to pick out one but… one thing that I do hold in mind is that His word says that He forms light and creates darkness. Indeed there was darkness before there was light, so this helps me to understead that I have to go through a time of death, darkness and despair to enter into light and life. I think the story of Lazarus also illustrates this simple truth, when we die we find the One who can bring us back into life and light.
I’m starting a series on light at another blog, if you’re interested I can give you the link.
PS. thanks for the Like.
I don’t understand, and I’m weeping. And I have no option but to hold onto God–His hand, His heart–to maintain my faith in His Power and His Love, regardless of what I see around me. To think–sometimes–is too much. He is still God, that’s what I’ll cling to. God bless you–love, sis Caddo
This particular passage in the Bible has always spoken to me. I even wrote a scene that incorporates it, into the book I’ve written. It’s so very powerful. Shortest sentence, but so packed with meaning.
These tragedies are severe, awful challenges for the faithful. I continue to pray and hope we all do our best to be His hands and feet here on earth to help prevent such things from happening in the future.
Very interesting and eye-opening to know why Jesus cried. I’ve always had doubts with this because He already knows all that would happen and that Lazerus would be resurrected… So thank you very much!
Perhaps it seems odd that a preacher would be at a loss for words — spoken or written. But, I am. I am taking my lead from my Savior… I weep.
Hi Dan. I don’t think it is at all odd to be at a loss for words in response to tragedy. I am too. Just trusting God’s heart and, as you put so well, following Jesus’ lead.
As with Lazarus and in our own unique situations, when God seems to ignore our pleas, I like the words of Graham Gooke: “Sometimes, God allows in His wisdom what He could easily prevent by His power.”
And it is way beyond us to understand the mind of God. It all comes down to faith, doesn’t it? Thanks Larry.