This past week, a friend shared with me a heavy burden about a family member whom she loves dearly. As she told me her story, her pain and yes agony was so palpable and heart wrenching that when she finished sharing her story, we hugged and I told her that my heart wept with her. Later, as I reflected on our conversation, it began to rain, which gave me pause wondering if God overheard our conversation and was weeping for my friend’s pain too. God weeping? Is that possible? Yes I believe so.
What if raindrops served another purpose that is even more personal to us? What if raindrops are God’s tears for all of the hurt, pain, sadness and fears people experience on a daily basis? What if God needs some time to weep for all of the sorrows, injustices and conflicts that engulf the universe every second? Tears for the lonely and depressed; tears for families who mourn the loss of their loved one; or for the child who was bullied. What if God weeps for the woman who was raped and abused, or for the gang member who was murdered? What if God’s heart weeps for the destruction of homes, businesses, and churches and especially for families torn apart by war? Does God weep for people who are starving in a world of plenty or mourn our careless consideration of the earth and all of its creatures, whose very existence is sustained by the fruits of the land and sea, which we contaminate with our wastefulness? Sometimes His pain must be unbearable.
The idea that God weeps with us in our pain and sorrow should not come as a surprise. The Bible is filled with stories that describe how deeply God engages in our lives. The Gospel of John has one of those stories that shows us how deeply His Son, Jesus, felt at the death of his friend. When someone we love dies, we are consumed by pain and grief so it makes sense that Jesus would do the same at the death of his friend, Lazarus. The Bible verse John 11:35 uses just two words to describe his emotional state; “Jesus wept.” I once believed that Jesus wept over his friend’s death however, after a careful study of the text, I believe that he wept for his friend’s sisters, Mary and Martha, who mourned the loss of their brother and friend. Through his tears, Jesus shared their pain and vulnerability. Later, there would be cause for celebration as he raised Lazarus from the dead but in that moment, he wept.
As I watched the rain and thought about my friend’s vulnerability and pain, it occurred to me that water can cleanse our pain, and soothe our worn spirits. Just like the rain, which provides sustenance for all creation, tears can nourish our thirsty souls and offer us new hope. When we weep with another, we share in their pain and vulnerability and together seek to restore their hope for a better tomorrow. Sometimes, this restoration takes time, and my friend may struggle mightily to see the hope that lies in the sunshine hidden beneath the clouds. Despite today’s gloominess, there will come a time for hope, but for today; God weeps…