How to Hold a Hurting Heart
“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 … They told him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Then Jesus wept.’” John 11:33, 34b-35 (NLT)
I don’t remember the cause of my hurting teenage heart. It may have been an onslaught of teenage drama or a sliver of dim disappointment, a bout with unmet expectations or a barrage of unkind words. It may have been unchecked pride or raging hormones. But whatever it was, by the time I arrived home from school, I was a hot swirl of ache and tears.
I yelled at my sister and sassed my mom. I kicked a laundry basket and stomped across the floor. Then, after offending everyone in my wake, I announced I was taking a walk. I stormed out the front door without noticing the sullen sky was as angry as I was.
Soon raindrops tangoed with the tears on my cheeks, and I wished the hurt in my heart would just seep into the puddles at my feet.
After a few minutes, I heard the slog of steps on the pavement behind me. Suddenly, my mom was beside me, her feet keeping cadence with my soggy shuffle.
She didn’t chide me for my outburst or minimize my pain. She didn’t assure me the sun would shine again or quote Scripture in the rain. On that day long ago, my mom simply walked me home, one soaking step at a time.
In John 11:33-35, we find Jesus sharing steps with a friend in pain, too. Mary’s brother Lazarus has died, and she is heartbroken and angry. Her prayers haven’t been answered as she’d expected, and her life has been turned upside down.
When Jesus arrives on the scene, He doesn’t diminish her distress or sidestep her sorrow. He just weeps with her as they walk to her brother’s tomb.
“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 … They told him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Then Jesus wept” (John 11:33, 34b-35).
What strikes me most about Jesus’ response to Mary’s grief isn’t what He says. It’s what He doesn’t say.
Think about it — Jesus knows Mary’s weeping will soon turn to joy. He knows that He’s going to bring her brother back to life, and all the tears will be trumped by cheers. But Jesus doesn’t use the hope of a better tomorrow to avoid the imminent pain of today.
Rather, Jesus holds Mary’s heart before He heals it. He enters her pain before He restores her peace.
To be honest, Jesus’ example challenges me to consider how I walk with the hurting people in my life. Grief can feel uncomfortable and awkward. And far too often, I want to fix someone’s struggle instead of share in their pain.
But Scripture reminds us we aren’t called to resolve someone’s tribulation; we’re commanded to share the gift of consolation.
Second Corinthians 1:3b-4 says, “… the God of all comfort … consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles” (VOICE).
We who’ve known the compassion of our heavenly Father are equipped to bring His comfort into any storm. We don’t need to worry about what to say — our imperfect presence often speaks louder than our perfect words. We just need to say yes to walking in the rain.
Because that’s how, one soggy step at a time, we walk each other home.
Dear God, thank You for holding my heart when hardships hit. Please give me courage to pass on Your comfort to those whose hearts are aching. Use my imperfect presence to bring Your perfect love to someone in pain today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (ESV)
Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn — they will be comforted.” (VOICE)
Jeremiah 31:13b, “For I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort My people and replace their sorrow with gladness.” (VOICE)
Have you ever needed a fresh start? We need more than a renovation or a face-lift; we need a new creation. John’s Gospel is devoted to showing us how, through the life of Jesus, we can step into an entirely new beginning. Join us for our next First 5 study, That You May Believe, which starts TODAY, July 2! Click here to find out more.
For more encouragement and a printable prayer to share with someone in pain, visit Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog today.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Thank someone today who has compassionately walked with you through a “storm” in your life.
Identify someone in your sphere of influence who needs the comfort of the Lord. What’s one thing you could do this week to “walk with them in the rain”? Join the conversation, and share your ideas to encourage others!
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