During the more difficult times I've been thinking a lot about who Jesus was to the people around Him when He lived here on earth. He was called:
“A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” This all – man – all – God knew what it was like. He was acquainted with grief. He did not run. He did not hide from it. He wore it like a robe. A man of sorrows. It was a part of the very essence of who He was.
These words have become ever more real to me. As Ian and I have walked through the last few weeks and months and now a year, I have told God often that I want this experience to change me. I want a softness to the grief’s and suffering’s of others because of our experience. When I hear of the earth groaning in grief. The ravages of war. Refugees, thirsty, hungry with nowhere to turn. Illness, and death creeping into my life from all angles. My heart cries out to God for mercy! How does God, who knows all things, continue to allow this sinful world to destroy itself? It makes my heart daily more grateful for the redemption we can have through Jesus Christ.
Ian was one of the first people who truly taught me how to cry.
As a child I was either all sunshine or all rain. I had no emotional even keel. As a teen I became embarrassed by my inability to control my tears. Experiences marred, formed and shaped me into a young woman who rarely cried and if I did, it was alone. I learned to bottle my tears behind my eyes even in the most difficult of times and would show them only to God in the darkest or quietest of moments. My friends called me, “Iron maiden.”
“I don’t understand tears,” I told Ian. “Tears make me feel vulnerable and manipulative. When I cry it makes my head hurt and there is nothing soothing about them.”
To me, tears were another language that I fought against using. So when they did come, it was with bitterness not relief that they flowed.
I watched almost fascinated when Ian would break down mid sentence when telling me about some difficulty someone was going through. He told me many times that tears are a gift. That it’s ok to cry even when we don’t know why we are crying. That crying with someone creates a beautiful bond.
Slowly, with much encouragement I began to learn to cry. As I write, I realize I’ve come a long way, and have a long way yet to go. I’ve cried for many reasons in the past but only just a few weeks ago did I really cry, just because I could and because the pain felt so deep and because for the first time it felt as if tears brought relief. I want to continue to learn how to cry, how to really feel with those around me. How to be touched like Christ was touched. How to let tears fall unabashed and unabated until Jesus returns.
I doubt that Jesus’s acquaintance with grief had much at all to do with people dying a physical death around Him. Instead I think He walked as a Man of Sorrows, a Godman who knew and fully understood the ravages of sin and Satan. Families falling apart, one angry, careless word at a time. Fathers, mothers, crying, “Why me?! Why us?” Sudden accidents tearing hearts and lives to shreds. The slow ravages of lust and greed. The destruction of sickness. He knows and truly understands the awfulness of sin and the devastation it has brought to our world.
I’ve told myself countless times to be strong in the midst of pain. I’m learning that there are different types of strength. One type of strength I want nothing to do with. It’s the strength that says, “When everyone else has fallen apart I have to be strong because who else will pick up the pieces?” It’s the strength that is it’s own form of ugly. Jesus, as Savior of the world, when everyone else around Him was grieving the loss of Lazarus was so acquainted with grief that He joined them in weeping. He didn’t ask, “Who will be there to pick up the pieces?” Because He knew that despite everything, only God can truly pick up the pieces of our lives and help to put us back together. Any strength that I have that makes me think I could, is false and full of self.
I do want to be strong in truth and righteousness. When the battle of my heart to die to self and what I want rages, I want to be founded on Christ Jesus who says that He is the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life. I want to allow God to change my heart because of the things we are experiencing. Father make me pliable!