This past Sunday (November 1st) was All Saints Sunday where we remember the great cloud of witnesses that have gone on before us. During our communion liturgy, we say aloud the names of the loved ones who have gone on before us. It is always a moving experience to name our loved ones and can be a very healing time in worship. We will all grieve and mourn at some point in our lives, the question I raised on Sunday is how should Christians express our grief?
In the account of the death of Lazarus in John 11, Lazarus’ sisters (Martha and Mary) cry out to Jesus, “If you had been here our brother would still be alive.” I have to imagined that those words were said with great pain, maybe even screamed at Jesus. In the midst of their grief, Jesus wept. Jesus gives us permission to weep and grieve our loved ones.
John also tells us that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” The Greek indicates that Jesus wasn’t just moved, this phrase means that Jesus was angry or upset. But upset at what? By weeping the Mary and Martha Jesus gives permission for our grief- but perhaps the grief of the people present had turned to despair. They believed that Jesus could heal Lazarus while he was living, now it all seemed so hopeless.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)- and therefore even in our grief we should be able to proclaim Jesus’ victory over the grave. We may grieve the loss of our loved ones, but through Jesus we can have hope of resurrection. Our lives should declare defiantly in the face of death the hope that we profess of life with God through Jesus Christ. Our theology of grief becomes a theology of hope because of God’s presence with us through all circumstances.
How have you seen hope displayed in the midst of grief?