WEPT

by Susie Crosby

verb: shed tears, cried silently

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 ESV

This is the famous verse: the shortest one in the Bible. The one that connects us to Jesus through the extremely painful emotion of sadness.

This is the verse that reminds us of how very human Jesus was.

He felt heartbreak.

He knew deep loss.

He experienced the raw ache of grief.

He shed real tears.

This verse is a surprising sentence in middle of the miracle story of Jesus raising Lazarus to life after four days in the tomb. To see Jesus cry must have significantly affected (and possibly confused) the disciples, the crowd, and especially Mary and Martha as they were mourning their brother. I think if I had been there, I would have been a little shocked and probably scared.

Because a lot of people in my life (including me) don’t cry very often. If our eyes well up or our voices crack with emotion, something really, really tough must be going on. Hurt and disappointment happens just as often to people like us, but for many different reasons, our tears get stifled or suppressed.

But Jesus wasn’t holding back. He wasn’t going to act like this wasn’t as difficult as it was. Mary and Martha and the others who were weeping must have felt so cared for. Not only was this their wise, strong friend unashamedly letting his tears fall, but this was Jesus–the One they believed to be the Son of God–grieving with them.

Even though Jesus knew that, in a matter of minutes, he was going to raise their dead brother back to life, he didn’t rush ahead or dismiss their feelings. He paused for a moment to just be with them. The Master, the Teacher, the One everyone was talking about had stopped to share in their pain, and he had actually started to cry.

The night that my Mom was dying was dark and awful.

Even though we knew she was going to be relieved of her sickness,

even though she was going to be with Jesus,

even though we can look forward to spending eternity in Heaven with her, we were devastated.

And we were going to feel terribly sad for a long, long time.

Jesus didn’t rush us past the pain. Instead, he came closer to us that night in the agony of losing her. He felt our pain, too, as we said goodbye until Heaven. He tended our hearts as we started to navigate life without her over the course of the next few years. And he faithfully, compassionately sits with us when the tears still come.

Whether we cry easily or not, we can be encouraged to know that Jesus wept too. I might even dare to suggest that this wasn’t the only time he cried while he walked on the earth. Even though we wish sometimes that he would just rush us through to the “feel better” place, we can be strengthened and comforted by his constant presence and understanding love.

It is okay to sit and cry with Jesus. Yes, he can bring life from death, good from evil, beauty from ashes, and joy from mourning. But in the painful in-between, let him hold your grieving heart. He’s got tears in his eyes, too.

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: How does knowing God grieves with you make a difference in how you view Him?

COMPASSION

by Susie Crosby

noun: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it

 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. Isaiah 30:18 NIV

 My friend posted a picture of her four-year-old daughter on the drive home from their vacation. Her eyes were wide with fear and her smile was gone. Her red, tear-stained cheeks caught my heart.

“Poor Annie,” the post read. “She is not a fan of driving over mountain passes.”

Neither am I, Annie. Neither am I.

I was just about to the top of a mountain pass when I experienced my first panic attack. I was driving my family and suddenly had to pull off the road–dizzy, sweating, and breathless. As my husband and I switched places, I collapsed into sobs and self-condemnation.

 What was wrong with me?

I had been a brave and confident driver for years. I enjoyed being behind the wheel and going on adventures with my family. So when this irrational fear overpowered me, so did self-criticism. I felt defeated, worthless, and weak.

But when I look at this photo of Annie suffering through this terrifying trip over the mountain pass, I notice something important. Nobody is mad at Annie in this photo. Why would they be? She wasn’t doing anything wrong. Whether her fear was justified or reasonable didn’t matter. She was scared, and she needed compassion. That’s all.

The compassion is evident in the photo and in the post written by Annie’s mom. As her little heart was in the grip of fear, it was clear that she was being completely cared for. Her little body was buckled securely into her car seat. Her dad appeared to be an alert and experienced driver.

And the best part? Her mom was reaching back, tightly and lovingly holding Annie’s tiny hand in hers–for almost an hour.

Caring, not criticizing. Loving, not judging.

When we feel afraid or ashamed, we can remember that God is the great giver of compassion. Not only does he buckle us in safely and take the wheel, but he will hold our hand as long as we need him to.

He longs to be gracious to us.

He rises up to show us compassion, even when we cannot show it to ourselves.

When fear and condemnation take over, we can remember these words of Jesus. He understands our weaknesses and our constant need for reassurance. Let’s put our hands in his and let him hold us through the mountain passes of life.  He is right there with us every step, every mile of the way.

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: In what regard do you need God’s compassion?

Sitting with Sorrow

by A.C. Williams

When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words. Job 2:12-13 NLT

Why is it therapeutic to fix broken things? What is it that makes us feels better after we piece together fragments of something that used to be whole? I think part of it is being made in God’s image. He is the Master Fixer, after all.

So what happens when we encounter something that can’t be fixed? Where no act—physical, mental, or spiritual—can restore what has been lost? What do we do then?

I think often of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. We vilify them as examples of what not to do when someone you love is hurting, and rightly so. Job’s friends tried to fix the situation. They needed to understand, which meant they had to assign blame. And, frankly, I’m not sure assigning blame ever helps.

What we tend to forget, however, is that when they first arrived, they did it right (Job 2:12-13). They mourned with him. They grieved for his loss right alongside him, and they were silent. Because they could tell that his grief was too great for words, so they sat with him in his sorrow without speaking.

But after a week, they couldn’t be silent anymore.

Why do we think that a grief too great for words must endure only a short time? We think once the initial grieving period is done, it’s time to get down to business and figure out what went wrong. Whose fault is it? How do we fix it?

Friends, we don’t get to decide when someone else is done grieving. It’s not our responsibility to tell someone it’s time to move on.

Job’s friends eventually got tired of sitting with his sorrow and tried to fix his life for him. That’s where they went wrong (Job 42:7-9).

Sitting with sorrow isn’t fun. It’s not pleasant. And the longer it lasts, the more uncomfortable it gets. It’s frustrating. Heartbreaking. Exhausting in every sense of the word. We want to point fingers. We want to cheer people up. We want to do something.

And maybe there is something we can do, but it’s important to remember that sitting with sorrow isn’t about making ourselves feel better. Sitting with sorrow is the sacrifice we bring to support someone we love on their terms. Not ours.

Part of being in Jesus’ big family is bearing the burdens of our brothers and sisters (Galatians 6:2). We offer a shoulder to cry on, a hand to steady them when their world is upside down, or a prayer when they are so broken they can’t pray for themselves.

I’m not saying people don’t need to eat or that they don’t need clean clothes or a clean house. There’s absolutely a need for practical support in the face of overwhelming grief. But in our compassionate drive to bless others, don’t forget that grief is a process that looks different for everyone.

Be willing to help, yes, but be patient. Then be available to help on their terms when they ask. If we’re with them in their moments of deepest grief, understand that we are in a place of privilege and trust. When they’re ready, they’ll tell us what they need.

We can’t fix grief. We can’t fix mourning and sorrow and trauma. Those are things that will never be fixed in this world, but they can be redeemed. It’s just not us who can do it.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Flipping Fates (The Misadventures of Trisha Lee Book 3) by [A. C. Williams]

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks won’t match. She has authored eight novels, two novellas, three devotional books, and more flash fiction than you can shake a stick at. A senior partner at the award-winning Uncommon Universes Press, she is passionate about stories and the authors who write them. Learn more about her book coaching and follow her adventures online at www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: How have you helped people who are grieving?

The Doors are Still Open

by Crystal Bowman

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Matthew 9:36 ESV

With only an eighth-grade education and some carpentry training in the U. S. Army, my dad became a successful contractor, building beautiful homes on Lake Michigan and remodeling almost every downtown storefront in our city. I enjoyed spending summers at our cottage on an inland lake in a small rural community. It was a way for our family to be on vacation while my dad was able to work in the area.

My dad had a burden for the lost, and when he discovered a poverty-stricken neighborhood only miles from our cottage, he could not ignore their spiritual needs. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd and had compassion for them. With support from our church, my dad built a small chapel at the entrance to the neighborhood. Every Sunday afternoon, instead of taking a much-needed rest, he canvassed the dirt roads on foot, inviting the families to come to the evening service where a pastor told the people about Jesus. Recognizing their physical needs as well, my dad provided food and clothing for those who came to worship. 

The ministry flourished for decades, and because of my dad’s vision, many people from this poor neighborhood have a mansion in heaven. When my dad became too old to continue this ministry, another local church took it over and continued offering services in the chapel.

Before Jesus went back to heaven after His resurrection, He told his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV). This passage is also known as The Great Commission, and if we are followers of Jesus, then the message is for us.

Many people leave their homes, friends, and families to serve on foreign mission fields. They follow God’s calling to share the Gospel in other countries or continents. The sacrifices they make for the sake of the Gospel are something I cannot relate to. But even if God has not called me to leave my homeland, He still asks me to share the Gospel in my neighborhood, my community, and at the grocery store.

We are surrounded by people who need Jesus. There are many different ways to share the Gospel, and opportunities are all around us. We can invite others to church or Bible study (even virtually). We can volunteer at local food pantries or after-school programs for children. If we have physical limitations, we can partner financially with ministries to support those who are able to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

In 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV), the Apostle Peter shares these words, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” In other words—be ready to share at any moment because we never know when someone is open to hearing about the hope, joy, and peace that come from having a believing faith in Jesus.

My dad has been with Jesus for 15 years, and there are others walking in heaven with him because he saw their needs. He built that little chapel 55 years ago, and I could never count the number of people who have come to know Jesus because of his compassion. The chapel is still standing and the doors are still open.   


This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Who has inspired you?