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home : religion : inspirational reflections September 21, 2019

7/28/2019 7:01:00 AM
He Cries With Us
Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is  10% what happens to you and  90% how you react to it.'

Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 
10% what happens to you and 
90% how you react to it.'

Rev. Susan Smith Walker
Emanuel Reformed Church

This week someone from the community who knows me as a pastor called to cry out in pain in the middle of a horrific family tragedy. He needed someone to listen and be present with him in his sorrow.  As he poured his heart out I was stunned by the horror of what he was describing. He was shattered. This was by far the most difficult call I have ever received as a pastor, and I prayed for God to help me. My friend began to sob and weep from the depths of his soul and as I listened I began to cry with him. We were connected in spirit and cried together for some time. My heart was broken for him and his family. Words were not sufficient. My tears were all I had to give.

Later I wondered if I had done the right thing when I cried too.  Was that a helpful pastoral response? Should I have been stronger for him? I prayed and asked God if I had been a good shepherd for this broken hearted sheep.  As I prayed it came to me that God cries for us in our sorrow too.

In John 11:1-32 we see the passage about Jesus’ trip to Bethany to call Lazarus out of the tomb and raise him from the dead. Jesus was at the edge of the village when Lazarus’ sister Mary came to meet him.

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John 11:32-36 
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Earlier in this passage Jesus made it clear to his disciples that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead saying in John 11:11 “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” Also in John 11:14 “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not here, so you may believe.”  Jesus was confident that he was going to work an amazing miracle before his disciples that would strengthen their faith. He had no reason to cry for Lazarus because he knew he would live again.

So why did Jesus cry? The tears that Jesus shed were for the pain and sorrow he felt in Mary and those who were with her. They didn’t know what Jesus was going to do. They thought they had lost Lazarus forever and they were all weeping from the depths of their soul. Jesus loved them and when he felt their broken hearts, He cried with them. Jesus’ tears were evidence of his humanity and his ability to feel our pain with us.

Sometimes all we can do to help someone is listen and be present with them in their pain. Words are not sufficient. Our tears may be all we have to give. As Jesus cried with Mary and her friends, He is present with us in our sorrow and cries with us too.  

Rev. Susan Walker is the pastor of Emanuel Reformed Church and she can be reached at 828-962-8196 or

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