A few months ago, I was jolted awake by the sound of a puking child. I hurried to the bathroom, pulled back Kate’s ponytail and rubbed her back. As I willed myself not to start heaving, my mom brain was already flipping through the next few days of activities and what we would need to cancel. Peter got up and started making her a bed on the floor next to us. I gave her a bowl and tucked her in.
But something wasn’t right. She curled up in a fetal position and her eyes got wide. She started clutching her chest and sweat was running down her her forehead. “I can’t breathe!” she gasped. She told me her chest hurt… and then she told me she wanted to go to the hospital.
Now, I’ll pause and let you know she’s fine. But at the time, we didn’t think it was fine. The Unknown hit us like a ton of bricks, our minds racing a million miles an hour. Peter loaded her in the car, drove way too fast to the hospital, where they did several tests and x-rays and determined it was a weird symptom of the flu that had been going around. Within a few hours, she was back to normal.
I stayed behind with the other sleeping children, feeling very, very alone, crying and praying. Even now, as I write these words, my hands start to shake. Because it wasn’t so long ago that Peter and I had another child in the backseat, racing to the emergency room.
That time when we drove away from the hospital, the carseat was empty and so were our hearts.
Those memories come fast and they remind me of what we’ve lived, of what hovers just under the surface all the time. And while I’m so very thankful for all God has tenderly led us through, I also realize that there’s no quota to loss. I’m not immune to it happening again. Just because I’ve buried a child doesn’t guarantee me a sorrow-less life from now on.
I have to admit to you, it terrifies me.
How do we cling to hope when we have lost? What do we do with our sorrow and our fear?
When Lazarus was sick, his sisters Mary and Martha must have surely thought that Jesus would heal him. After all, Jesus had been to their house. They were friends and healing was His specialty. But Jesus didn’t heal him. Lazarus had been dead four days by the time Jesus arrived. Mary and Martha both said the same thing to Jesus— “If only you had been here, he wouldn’t have died!”
Imagine with me the weight of grief these two women felt. The hope they wanted to cling to, but lacking the strength. Have you felt that weight? Are you, like me, terrified at times at the unknown?
When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept.
Jesus’ emotions and actions fill me with such hope. They are raw, they are real…. they are familiar. I can’t tell you what it does to me to know that Jesus understands what I feel because He also has felt the heaviness of sorrow. He didn’t shut down His emotions or sweep in to quickly make it all better, but He took the time to enter into the heartache of what was happening all around Him. And it troubled Him.
I hold it so close to me— the way He grieves with us. The way He reminds me that my tears aren’t a sign of weakness or faithlessness, instead they are a way to communicate my fears and brokenness to Him without even using words.
It’s the shortest verse in the Bible— the one we all clambered for as kids when we had to memorize a verse. It seemed the easiest and fastest. Little did I understand the gravity of the words. It may be the shortest, but behind those two little words is a world groaning from the weight of sorrow.
Today, may you sit and cling to those two little words. Jesus wept. May you have the courage to believe that Jesus weeps over your heartache. He knows the terror that grips you during the night. He knows the dreams that lie buried deep. You may feel alone, but He is with you. He meets you in your sorrow and weeps along with your tears.