Jesus Weeps with You

by | Apr 3, 2024 | Featured, Life Advice, Wisdom

John 11:32-35 “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.” (NIV)

One crisp, cool October afternoon, I was getting home from a doctor’s appointment. Within a matter of seconds, after I had entered the house, I was upstairs in my closet crying. You know those deep sobs where you can hardly cry because you are so upset? I had hit my third season in a row as an elite runner with a new injury nagging me and was seeing many doctors a week to try and get to the bottom of health issues. My body was failing me, so I felt like a failure even though I was working harder than I ever had to try and get healthy and happy again. It felt like all of my dreams for the future and running and who I thought I was were crashing to the ground.

I sat in the closet crying, asking God to explain, just wanting to go back to the way my life was before. My dad heard me from downstairs. Shortly after, there was a soft tap, tap on my bedroom door. I got up to answer, and as soon as I saw my dad’s face, I burst into another fit of tears. I could see the empathy he felt in his eyes. He came and sat with me in my closet and let me have a good, long cry. “Why me?” I asked him. “Why do I have to go through this when none of my friends do?” Have you been there? Wishing for another story? My dad held me and rubbed my back as he answered in a slow, apologetic voice, almost on the edge of tears himself. He told me he did not know why I had to go through this.

Then he began to slowly unpack the story of Lazarus in the Bible to me. He said, “I don’t know why, but this is what God does to his friends, all throughout the Bible he does this to his closest friends.” This past fall I spoke at a small women’s conference about the story of Lazarus. I encouraged them to see Jesus’ empathy for Lazarus as an example of how He cares for us in the pain we face in life. I want to be clear here that I do not mean God wishes evil upon us. I believe that whatever pain we walk through in life God is able to use. Before speaking at this women’s event, I reread the passages in John 11-12 over and over to study exactly what Jesus did in this story of Lazarus. I wanted to make sure I said everything in the right context. I wanted to truly share the heart of God with these women through this moving story. About the third time reading through it I remember being so powerfully moved by these four verses, 32 “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ 35 Jesus wept.” (John 11:32-35 ESV).

Now, in the previous passages John talks about when Jesus first got news that Lazarus was sick. He waited two days before going to Judea to see him. It also states that Jesus was very good friends with Lazarus and his sisters. Mary and Martha are two very significant people in the Bible and love the Lord intimately just as He loves them. Imagine knowing you had the power to help a close friend or relative who was on death’s doorstep, and you had to let them pass and wait two days before going to check on their family. I think the most significant verse in this story is verse 35, the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.”

Now, you might think, yes, it was His best friend, of course He cried. But, to me the crazy beautiful part of Jesus being moved by Mary and Martha’s tears, being “deeply moved” as it says, is that He knew He was about to go raise Lazarus from the dead. He had been dead four days and Jesus knew He had the power to heal him and had told his disciples verses before this, 11 “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” He knew what He came to Judea to do. He could have come in dancing and praising and joyful for He knew He was about to bring glory to God. Friend, God loves you, with a capital L. However, sometimes things in our life must die before He can raise up something beautiful. When things in our life die, our most helpful response is, “Lord, come.” We must ask Him to come and be with us in the broken we do not understand. If you just started reading because you saw this linked on Instagram or popped up randomly for you and you are not sure if it is for you, maybe reading this story about Lazarus reminded you a bit of your own story? I encourage you to keep reading! Do not become bitter to your pain. Know that we serve a God who knows the plan. Know that we serve a God who does allow Lazarus to die, but not a God who does not have a backup plan for greater glory. Do not miss out on the story God is writing. There is a reason for your broken dreams. Something beautiful getting broken can lead to something even better. We can surrender our broken in order to allow God to do His better. We can work with God and allow Him to take us from our lowest, to and for His highest.

Instead of coming in dancing and praising to the mourning family, Jesus hurts with them, He physically weeps with them. And then He says, “Show me the tomb.” After Lazarus is raised, much glory is brought to God, and many believe. The pain of Lazarus and his family was intense. There was death and there were tears. Jesus hates to see us hurt but He loves us so much that He feels the pain with and for us. How significant a love our father has that He does not simply show up celebrating when He knows the end of the story. He knows the final outcome is good, but He still holds us and allows us to lean back against his chest and feel his heartbeat for us. He is a good father who knows how to love his children better than anyone.

My husband and I used to read the Narnia series to each other anytime we were on a long road trip or getting ready to go to bed. We try to read aloud instead of being on our phones all the time. We were reading The Magician’s Nephew, the first of the series by C.S. Lewis. If you have not read Narnia, I will give you a little context. In the series Aslan represents God and He is a lion. The Magician’s Nephew is the first book and is a parallel to the creation story in the Bible. Digory, the main character, a child, has a very sick mother. He is realizing Aslan might heal her as he gets to know how powerful and kind Aslan is. I couldn’t hold back my tears when I read the following passage aloud, “‘But please, please – won’t you – can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?’ Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was himself.”1

I don’t claim to know why God does what he does and allows certain things to happen to us, but the truth is his “best friends,” those who have enviable intimacy with Him almost always have hard stories because that’s how that intimacy grows. We do not have to know why He allows us to break, we just must know He does not leave us that way. We draw closer to God by fighting battles with Him and for Him. The circumstances of this life cannot be what defines my joy (or yours). Running fast/being injury free was not my purpose. And God was using every “closet moment” with Him to develop a sense of identity, purpose, and love for Him far beyond what I already had. Every time we look into God’s eyes just as Mary did after her brother Lazarus died, just like Digory did when he thought about his mother dying and being sick, we get to see His character. And His character is love. His character is empathy, His character is good. He cares for you.

“God, thank you that you love us, with a capital L. Thank you that sometimes, things in our lives have to die before you raise up something beautiful. In the midst of the hard of this life we say, “Lord, come.” We ask you to come and be with us in the midst of the broken we cannot understand.”


Kat Shultis

For Deeper Study:

1. For a practical guide on how to grow in trusting God, grab a copy of Kat’s book, My Lowest For His Highest 2. Another great resource on this topic is, Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard

3. Psalms 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (NIV)

1 The Chronicles Of Narnia. The Magicians Nephew. C.S. Lewis. Copyright 1982. HarperCollins. Page 83.

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