He glimpsed her through the crowd—two souls colliding through a sea of anguish. As He drew closer, they both stopped as if by an invisible force. Their eyes now locked, pain swelled in his gut.
Her life an open book to His omnipresence, He comprehended the agony of her loss. Yet as the Son of Man—well acquainted with grief—its effects became almost unbearable in both body and soul. (Isiah 53:3)
Her eyes swollen from days of endless crying, He gazed into their barrenness. She felt a warmth slowly penetrating the coldness of her empty soul. Though a stranger, He felt like a familiar friend.
The crowds all but disappeared as time momentarily stood still. Then it happened. His heart overflowing with compassion, He uttered 2 life-changing words:
Don’t cry! (Luke 7:13)
Exercising no restraint, He turned to the coffin and commanded, “Young man, I tell you, rise!”
Before she could think long enough to doubt the audacity of His command, her son sat up on the board like a soldier coming to attention. Reality sinking in, she shouted orders to let him down. Embracing her son, shouts of exhilaration and tears of joy flooded the scene. Amidst the celebration, her eyes found Him one last time. In that moment, He received a lifetime of gratitude.
This account in Jesus’ life—a favorite—recently surfaced again.
Tragedy begs reminders of a compassionate Savior.
This woman’s loss—the worst possible—was even more devastating in her day. Not only did she lose her son but her source of security, protection and provision. Destitute, she became a ward of society.
But Jesus is deeply moved by grief of all kinds. He understands grieving (a) lost—
- wayward child
- job or promotion
- comfort or security
In walking through grief recently, this passage taught me 3 keys to healing:
1. It is normal and healthy to grieve.
In the West, many are uncomfortable with grief, not knowing how to process it or comfort those in it.
Jesus didn’t tell the woman to stop grieving; He told her to stop crying. Why? He was about to restore her son. But what about most of us who didn’t get a resurrection or are suffering other losses? We must be allowed to process the grief, or it will come out in unhealthy ways.
2. Experience and process each step of your grief. Some stages could be:
Jesus understood the how of grief long before science discovered it, and we can too.
While unappealing, each stage is a necessary experience, and working through them allows processing the how and why of grief. Some stages may progress more quickly depending on the depth of grief, but pushing ourselves through the process before we process results in long-standing ramifications—physically, mentally and socially.
3. There are right and wrong things to say and do for someone grieving.
Jesus didn’t tell the woman, “Your sin caused this.” He met her in her grief.
Other wrong things to say:
- Anything starting with At least…
- Things happen for a reason.
- We can’t understand God’s ways.
- You (can) have other children.
- You’ll marry again.
- They’re in a better place.
- You should be over this.
- You didn’t have enough faith.
- God wanted them in heaven.
- It was their time.
- I know how you feel.
The right things to say:
- I’m so sorry.
- I wish I had the right words.
- I’m here for you (and be there!)
- What do you most need now?
- Can I pray for you?
- Just hug them.
As a pastor who lost his son says, “Show up and shut up!”
The best things we can do?
- Pray for them.
- Be with them.
- Allow them to talk without fixing or having answers.
- Bring/send a self-care package.
- Make a meal, even weeks later.
- Check-in on them regularly—in love—not haste to heal.
- Don’t disappear.
This not only helps but won’t hinder progress. People often say and do well-intentioned but hurtful things sending people spiraling backward in their grief.
So do you know someone grieving? Don’t shy away because it’s uncomfortable. Jesus shows up in the pain; we can too in His strength. We can weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) in healthy ways, so we comfort without incapacitating ourselves.
Are you grieving? Let’s journey to healing together! What steps can you take today to work towards processing your grief?
- Time to process
- A support group
Whatever the next step, take it, no matter how small. Jesus is with you, as He was with the grieving woman that hot, desperate day long ago. He longs to carry you, healing the brokenness.
Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing. Be healed!” Mark 1:41