“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me . . . to comfort all who mourn.”
From Isaiah 61:1-2, NIV
In Isaiah 61 the prophet is describing the work that the Messiah, Jesus, would do, including comforting those who mourn. When Jesus began His ministry, He confirmed that Isaiah had been writing about Himself by saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
There are many different forms of loss which can cause us grief, but the one that brings the greatest heartache is the loss of a mother or father, husband or wife, brother or sister or, most painfully, a precious child. Losing a much-loved close family relative is the greatest pain of all, even more so if the loss is sudden or tragic, leaving no space or time to grow accustomed to the fact that someone we love is dying.
Life does not stop for those who are left behind, but how do we handle the grief of knowing that the person we loved so much is no longer with us, as we begin the process of adjusting to life without the one who mattered so much to us. It can seem as though we are facing an impossible journey, but a journey that, however hard it seems, we know we have to take.
We know that life will never be the same again, but the pain of facing this reality can seem like a mountain we have no ability or desire to climb. Like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car, we are immobilised by grief, grief that no-one else can fully understand and no-one else can live for you.
It was into just such a situation that Jesus walked when He came to the home of Mary and Martha, whose beloved brother Lazarus had died. These were all people whom Jesus loved and the sisters were not only in grief about his death, but because Jesus, who they knew had the power to heal, had not been there to heal him before he died. John records that when Jesus saw them weeping he was deeply moved. And then that Jesus wept. Jesus was full of compassion and expressing His own grief that Mary and Martha were feeling their pain so deeply.
Jesus had already told them (John 11:25), “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives, and believes in me, will never die.” The sisters understood this spiritually, but how would everyone else know and understand this amazing truth?
When Jesus raised Lazarus physically from the dead, however, after he had been four days in the tomb, there would be no doubting in anyone’s mind that what Jesus had said about resurrection life for all who believed was true. The evidence of Lazarus walking out of the tomb meant far more than physical life for Lazarus, for it confirmed to all believers, for the whole of time that in Jesus is eternal life, his promises of resurrection life are real and that we will see again all those who die in Him. This is the greatest of all comforts.
Be assured that whatever the personal loss is you have experienced, the Lord is weeping with you. His promise to comfort all who mourn is still current and it includes you. Be assured that, in Christ, is resurrection life and that He is still comforting those who mourn and weeping with those who have suffered loss.
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that You demonstrated Your comfort to Mary and Martha and showed that You have the power of resurrection life by raising Lazarus from the dead. I open my arms afresh to You today and ask that You will wrap your arms of comforting love around me and touch my heart with Your healing, even in the deepest areas of my pain. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.