Last Tuesday, Elder Peter called me with the sad news that his daughter, Jessica, had passed away and is now in the Lord’s keeping. My heart broke - for him, for his family and for everyone who knew Jessica and loved her. My wife taught Jessica in Sunday School when she was in primary school. I used to help her teach sometimes. Jessica had her endearing ways. I remember her most for her Mona-Lisa like smile. It’s the kind of impish, lovable smile that made me think something funny was happening over my shoulder that I could not see but she could. When a young person is taken from us, there will always be sadness.
As I prepared for the night service, I asked our Lord Jesus “What would you say to the Chuang family as they deal with their loss?” And as I meditated, two words came to mind, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). I was reminded me that, amidst all our pain, God is still present and active. He has not abandoned us and remains our hope.
The context of this verse is about two women, Mary and Martha dealing with their brother’s, Lazarus’, death. Lazarus fell sick. Why he fell sick, we don’t know. But he does die quite suddenly. What is obvious is that Mary and Martha are very troubled. Not knowing what they can do, they do the one sensible thing - they call for Jesus. When Jesus arrives and saw Mary weeping, ‘he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Then Jesus wept. Why? Was he crying because Lazarus was dead? I don’t think so. After all, in a few minutes, he would raise Lazarus from the dead. No, Jesus wasn't crying because Lazarus was dead. He wept because he understood the desperate brokenness of these two women who had just lost their beloved brother. Jesus’ tears came from the fact that this was not the way it was supposed to be. This is not what God intended for humanity. God made us for something else. He made us for life and not for death. Death was not part of life when God created man.
That is why we are averse to death, because it is not natural. Scriptures teach us that God created man to be in a loving relationship with him, with our world, with ourselves and with each other. Yet, we also know such relationships have been broken. That is why Jesus came. His death and resurrection was to fix all broken relationships. One day, all things will be made new because he has conquered death on the cross. One day, there will be no more mourning, no more pain, no more tears and no more death. Creation will finally be as it was created to be. We will experience joy and fellowship again with the loved ones death took from us in this life.
Some people have asked me, “How do you believe in a God that allows something like this to happen?” I believe there is a better way to look at this. I am so thankful that God saw our broken and sinful world and decided to do something about it. The truth is that God loves us despite our sinful state. The proof is seen in him sending his only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us - so that we may experience a better life and home with him when we pass on from this earth. This is our God – kind and loving.
Further, we have a God who weeps with us. We have a God who is deeply troubled with the way the world is. He is not a God who sits, out of reach, high up on a throne, unattached and unmoved by the plight of humanity. As he did with Mary and Martha, he sits with us in our darkest hour and grieves alongside us. Jesus wept. Amidst all sadness, Jesus is present and involved. God is grieved too as he feels our sorrow.
Remember these two words when we face trials of sorrow and pain - Jesus wept. Amidst all our sadness, he is present and still involved in our lives.
Goodnight, sweet princess Jessica. Flights of angels and our glorious Lord Jesus hath winged thee to thy eternal rest.