This article was written by Waylon Vande Hoef, LPC, Clinical Counselor, Northwest AR, Living Well Counseling
“Jesus wept” —the easiest verse to memorize and yet often overlooked. I really enjoy the story surrounding this verse found in John 11. The story shares that Jesus heard his friend Lazarus was sick. Jesus knew and shared that he would be made well for God’s glory, and he decided to stay where he was for a couple more days. In the meantime, Lazarus dies and is buried in the tomb. Jesus gets to the tomb four days later and raises him from the dead! Amazing! It’s the foretelling of the future for those who believe in Jesus!
Again, one of my favorite stories, but I left a big part of the text out. When they got to the tomb, Lazarus’ sister Mary ran and fell to the feet of Jesus and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (v. 32)
Now, I want you to imagine how you, being fully human, would respond right here. You have been doing the work of the Lord and healing and caring for people and you walk up and get accused for the death of Lazarus. She wasn’t accusing him, but for many of us, that is how we might feel. We would probably become defensive and argue our point to Mary, or we might deny any fault, or we may just walk away with our heads low.
Notice what happens next. “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.” (33-35) I want you to observe the response from Jesus. The people around him were troubled, angry, and hurting. He allowed himself to feel what they felt and became troubled, angry, and then wept. He didn’t get defensive, but He responds with empathy, care, and concern. He allowed himself to feel the hurt of others even though He knew what was going to happen with Lazarus.
This response is the heart of Jesus. He desires us to love this way as well. He created us to feel what others feel and to respond with compassion and care. As a marriage counselor, I often hear people say, “I cannot feel like that, I am not wired that way.” For them, this may seem true and even daunting, but at the heart of Jesus, he desires for you to feel and respond with compassion.
As an individualistic society, we have learned to shut off vulnerable emotions. In fact, we shame others for crying and hurting. So, we learn not to feel. Vulnerability is a big risk. I may be misunderstood and attacked or belittled. So, I choose not to. Unfortunately, we miss out on the heart of Jesus. Would you allow Jesus to examine your heart? Would you let him grieve over the things that have happened to you? Psalm 139: 23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!”
If we can be vulnerable with the Lord, He will empower us to become vulnerable with others. This in turn will create the connection we desire with the Lord and others. Matthew 22:37-40.