Authored by Mara Hodler
I was tucking my girls into bed at the end of a long and happy weekend. My youngest started crying and said, “Mommy, I miss Seren so much.” Her two older sisters looked at her, tears welling up in their eyes. “We miss Seren, too.” My own eyes filled with tears. I missed Seren, too. Seren is our baby. She was going to be born in the summer of 2014, but there were complications with the pregnancy and she was born too soon. There was nothing the doctors could do, and she passed away. Our family was heartbroken.
This weepathon happened two weeks after Seren left us. We were all just getting over the grief, but it still hits, and sometimes it hits hard. As the girls cried, each of them expressed their feelings on the event.
“Why would God send us a baby and then just take her away?” my eldest sobbed.
“I know God is good, but how come I feel so helpless when He sends such sad things?” said the middle girl between tearful gasps.
“I miss Seren!” the youngest cried over and over.
It was a very sad scene. I was crying, too. Normally when my kids come to me weeping about something, I don’t get too miffed by it. “Yes, you had a rough day in school, but you’ll have good days, too.” “I know your tummy hurts (for the millionth time this year). Let me snuggle you; you’ll feel better soon.” As a mom, I know that most of the “tragedies” my kids face in life are really very tiny things that will sort themselves out with a few hugs and kisses and a bit of time. But losing Seren—this was my sorrow just as much as it was theirs.
I sat there holding my girls, all of us crying together. As I struggled to find the right words to comfort them, a scripture came to mind: “Jesus wept.”1 That’s the shortest verse in the Bible and has never seemed profound to me. It’s only two words. How much meaning can it have and why did Jesus weep? He knew that Lazarus was going to rise from the dead, so why did He need to cry? There might be other theories out there, but I think He wept because He was sad. Lazarus’ death hurt him. He felt the loss. He probably also felt the hurt and loss that His friends felt.
Hebrews 4:15 says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”2
Jesus didn’t live in a bubble, unaffected by human suffering or struggle. He didn’t come as a “protected class” that would somehow be immune to human emotions. He fully entered into the human experience just the way that you and I do. He went for the true “ride” of being human, with all of our joys, triumphs, sorrows, and heartbreaks. Sometimes when I see the word “tempted,” I think of being tempted to do things that are wrong, but still enticing. That’s one example, sure. But it can also mean to be tempted or struggle with depression, deep despair, guilt, or any of the human emotions we are so familiar with.
In the recounting of the story of Lazarus, the Bible tells us that Jesus “groaned in the spirit,” which pretty much means He was very deeply sorrowful or troubled by the sadness that those He loved were experiencing. That’s how I felt that night with my girls.
It brought me some consolation to know that Jesus felt the same way when He saw His loved ones grieving. Jesus wept just the way we do when someone we love dies, or when we experience another sorrow or loss. So now as my girls and I cried together, we were doing just what Jesus would do in a sad place. It was okay to cry as much as we needed to. Little by little our tears subsided, and we talked about how our lives had changed since we lost Seren, the things we had learned, things that had become more precious to us, and finally, we laughed and told funny stories. We were comforted.
I think we’ll always feel a little sadness when we think of her. We’ll always miss her. We’ll probably always have some questions about why God allowed everything to happen the way it did. But we’ll also always remember that we were comforted, that we did heal, and that we were happy again.
In the days since this event I have thought more about Jesus’ weeping, and how He was able to feel our sorrows alongside us. I have thought more about God’s comfort. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”3 This statement is suggesting that the comfort bestowed on the mourner is so great that it’s actually enough to make it seem like they were lucky to have a reason to mourn. This point of view is new to me!
I also see it as meaning that Jesus recognizes the need to mourn. He doesn’t just expect us to “power through” everything or be eternally happy. He completely understands that some things are just sad; they bring a deep sense of loss, hurt, and anguish, and the only way to get through them is to grieve for a bit. Just remember that, in your grief, you are assured of God’s loving comfort. That means that He will be there alongside you to lessen your grief, to heal your hurting, and to renew your joy.
If you find yourself in a sad place, here are a few things that you can remember:
—Jesus cried too. He understands sadness and loss.
—He gets the need to mourn or grieve when something sad happens; He’s not judging you for your feelings or your questions.
—He promises comfort. That means He comes alongside you to share in your grief and to alleviate your sorrow in the way that He knows best.
1 1John 11:35
2 Hebrews 4:15 NIV
3 Matthew 5:4 NIV
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International