Big Girls Do Cry
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
Lament helps us live in the tension between our pain and God’s sovereignty.
“Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show.” This destructive refrain from Disney’s Frozen has always haunted me. What terrible, soul-crushing advice! Few lies are as naturally appealing to humans as to hide our emotional pain and weakness. It is only too easy to believe that emotions are some fragile part of ourselves we are better off suppressing.
This human tendency is exactly why Scripture is such a great help to us. Within Scripture’s pages we discover encouragement and examples of how to bear our souls. John 11 is a story overflowing with fear, grief, and doubt. Jesus’ good friend Lazarus dies. Both of Lazarus’ sisters share their emotion with Christ. But they do not receive a strong rebuke. Jesus does not deny either sister their opportunity to grieve. In fact, he cried alongside them.
Jesus, the Messiah, knows our pain! Yet his tears are not tears of despair, for this story is ripe with divine purpose (vv 4, 15, 42, 48, etc.). Yes, “Jesus wept,” but not without hope. Look at how he shepherds his disciples, Martha, Mary, and the crowd.
Emotions can lead people into a great number of sins. It is not healthy to blindly follow them into despair, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to deny them. The emotions of grief can and should be shared with God through lament. Lament is a prayer of honest sorrow that makes a vital turning point — an expression of trust in God’s truth despite the pain. It is that expression of faith that testifies to God’s goodness in a special way only possible in seasons of suffering. That is why lament is so important.
- Do you grieve like Martha or Mary? In your pain, do you look for a fight, or do you tend to withdraw? Healthy lament will not allow us to remain in either place for long.
- Martha struggles in 11:24-40 to move an eternal truth from her head to her heart. What promises of God are you struggling to confidently receive? Will you continue to proclaim truth no matter how long it takes?
- Read John 16:33. What two guarantees does Jesus make to his followers? How might this verse help when you are tempted to suffer in silence and not share your pain with God?
- Consider finding a song to sing throughout the day. Some suggestions: “Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer” by Keith & Kristyn Getty, or “I Will Wait for You (Psalm 130)” by Stuart Townend, et al.
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1