Making Space To Experience Pain
by Emily Hamilton, Pastor of Missions
February 27, 2020
Jesus wept.—John 11:35 (ESV)
This is the shortest, yet perhaps the most profound, verse in the entire Bible. Jesus’ friend Lazarus has just died. Everyone in the story, everyone reading the story, seems to know that Jesus is powerful enough to have prevented this tragedy . . . and everyone wonders why He didn’t. And Jesus, with full knowledge that He is about to raise Lazarus from the dead, still feels the pain of grief—His own and His friends’. His heart is so moved by this pain, pain that—for His friends—seems to be compounded by His seeming lack of response, that He is moved to sobs.
Makoto Fujimura is a Japanese-American artist commissioned to do the gospel frontispieces for the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. This verse was the inspiration for His work, Charis-Kairos (The Tears of Christ). Fujimura writes, “Tears are useless, even wasteful, if you possess the power to cause miracles. Instead [Jesus] made Himself vulnerable, stopped to feel the sting of death, to identify with frail humanity, who struggled to know hope.”
The gospel teaches us that death does not have the last word, yet we live in the in-between time now: feeling death’s sting, awaiting resurrection. As Christians we believe that looking ahead towards the fulfillment of God’s promises gives us hope in the present. And this is true. But what if hope also grows, not just from looking ahead toward God’s promised future, but from the tears of Christ present with us while we wait? How does it change our experience of grief, pain, longing, and suffering to remember that Jesus takes the time to weep with us?