John 11: 33-36.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see.
Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him!
It is not strange that Jesus would “groan in His spirit, and be trouble.” He saw the grief of Mary and Martha, saw their sorrow, along with those who had come to mourn with them. He loved this family, and it touched His heart of compassion to see them so distraught.
We may have difficulty identifying with the outward display of grief that was going on. We’ve done our best to keep a stoic appearance in the face of such loss, and keep our deep grief and mourning to ourselves. I’m not sure why, really. Are we convinced that showing outward grief is a sign of weakness? Of a lack of faith? Of selfishness, or just lack of self-control? If we allow ourselves to weep openly, are we afraid we WILL lose control completely? Embarrass ourselves?
I worked in my counseling office for 18 years, and often spoke with those who had experienced great loss. Often, their first question was, “Why am I still crying so much? It’s been six weeks–month–even years, Shouldn’t I be past this?”
I don’t know when we started making rules for how long we’re allowed to grieve. Grieve as long as you need to. Don’t worry about what someone else may think. Yes, we need to trust God to help us through these times of grieving, but we cannot bottle up our grief. Sooner or later, the cork in that bottle is going to pop, and all that grief will come pouring out like lava from a volcano. Grief is something we have to endure, and the only way out is through. Yes, it’s hard. Sometimes it’s awful. It’s always lonely. But believers are never alone. God knows our griefs, and He grieves with us, just as Jesus grieved with Mary and Martha.
Jesus asked where Lazarus was entombed. Of course, He already knew, but often, grieving people find comfort in showing the grave to others.
When Jesus wept, the Jews took note. “See how much Jesus loved Lazarus!”
The Jews were not afraid or reluctant to show their grief, and I have learned that grief shared is often grief relieved. The people understood Jesus’ grief, and He understood theirs.
Romans 12:15 commands us to rejoice with others who rejoice, and to weep with others who weep. Never tell a grieving person not to cry. You are robbing them of their grief, and robbing yourself of an opportunity to show compassion and empathy.