Posted by: mikenicholsblog | July 14, 2014

“Don’t cry!”

It’s always interesting when my scripture reading intersects with my life. I think it’s safe to believe that you’ve experienced similar times and kinds of life intersections. My daily reading of the words of Jesus took me to the story of Jesus healing a young man (more later). It was amazing to me that after reading those words last Saturday morning, I would give a Eulogy later that very day for a man who had lived a physically tough journey.  It’s so hard for any of us to have the proper words to comfort others in a time of deep grieving. As I stood before the man’s parents, it was great to celebrate a remarkable journey, but hard to really understand and convey the compassion and grace needed for that moment. Reading the depth of Jesus’ compassion caused me to reflect on how I respond (or should respond) to others who are hurting.

The passage that I read yesterday morning was one of the three places in scripture where we find Jesus raising a dead person to life. Most people can immediately remember the raising of Lazarus, some may recall the raising of Jarius’ daughter, but few can recollect the raising of the widow from Nain’s son without some prompting. Oh, but what a great scene it was! And what a great picture of compassion and grace Jesus displayed in Luke 7:11-15.

Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

In those days, it was common for Jewish people to bury their dead the very same day they passed away. Considering the fact this woman had no surviving husband or son, devastating economic and emotional circumstances were likely on the horizon. What a bleak day! But in the sovereignty of God, Jesus was approaching Nain’s village gate as the funeral procession was passing through. What timing! The compassion of Christ bubbled over, and He did something that was full of grace. We have all responded to a child with the words, “Don’t cry.” However, the depth of care from Christ at this moment was far beyond any times those two words have ever exited our lips. He was literally meeting the grieving widow at her point of need.

It’s also interesting to me that Jesus did something radical, right before raising the young man. He touched the coffin (no big deal, right?). But this action rendered him ritually unclean. It most assuredly got the bearers’ attention, because they stopped. He raised the young man back to life with a simple command. Jesus’ own words of compassion and loving care accomplished far more than any human attempts at encouragement. Can you imagine the mother’s emotion as Jesus returned her son?

As I stood before my friends Saturday, my compassion and care for them ran deep. So often, however, I’m afraid that my (and your) compassion stops at a brief word and nice card. We may not have the power to raise the dead, but we can speak life into another living soul.  The next time we feel like saying to someone, “Don’t cry,” maybe we should catch their tears by caring and helping them beyond that moment.  Don’t stop short of saying those words, but say them in a way that speaks life into another one that desperately needs it.

yeam_2014


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