It’s a strange thing that has happened this week. I’ve noticed it in myself and in others, from what I’ve heard them saying. In many ways the harsh reality that things will not be the same is setting in. This is not to say we didn’t know that before, intellectually we had already accepted it as fact, but it is an altogether different thing when the truth settles in our hearts. That feeling of discomfort, that lack of motivation, not being able to think as clearly as usual, that restlessness, short-temperedness… it’s grief. I feel it when I see images or videos of gatherings before the pandemic and lockdowns hit, when we all took for granted the pleasure of being gather together. I feel it when I hear of the struggles that the owners of businesses are facing, for many their business is like a child that they have raised and cared for as it has grown. And now they face the possibility of it dying. I feel it when I consider all the employees, the entrepreneurs, the labourers, facing the uncertainty of loss of income. I feel it when I think of the people of New Harvest and the impact that this is having on you all and… I’m actually not able to articulate all that I’m feeling on that point right now.
I know that some of these losses are temporary, that things will recover. Even as soon as the lockdown is over and we have some more freedom to meet and gather in small groups again. Yet there are things that will not merely “bounce back”. There is loss and so there must be grief. I know this as I look to my Saviour, to Jesus.
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
(John 11:33-36 NIV)
It remains the shortest and one of the most poignant verses in Scripture. Jesus wept. In light of the loss of His friend Lazarus, Jesus grieved for him. He grieved for the loss and pain that Mary and Martha, and the others, had experienced. This is despite the fact that He knew that Lazarus’s death was temporary, He knew that he would be restored to life. It wasn’t a permanent loss. And yet still He wept for what had been lost. There is loss and so there must be grief.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” (Matthew 5:4).
The story of Lazarus does not end in tears. The glory of God was revealed when Jesus commanded the stone be rolled away and called for Lazarus to rise and come out of the tomb. Oh what joy there must have been! Made all the more sweeter as it contrasted with the grief they had all shared. There is a place for grief. Do not try to deny or trivialise what you are feeling. There is a time for mourning, it shows how much we cared about what we have lost. But so too we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13) and we are consoled in the knowledge that we who mourn will be comforted by the very one who made this promise, our wonderful Saviour, Jesus.