One of the most poignant and familiar stories in the New Testament focuses on the raising of Lazarus which is found only in the gospel of St. John. Unlike some of the healing accounts, it is one of those incidences which draws in a whole range of different people, and in every case there is a shared reaction of profound grief. There is the family grief etched on the faces of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. There was the very public expression of grief seen among the large group of Jews whom, we are told, had come to comfort the sisters in their loss. Finally, we get a picture of the deep sense of loss Jesus himself displayed because of the death of his friend. It is summed up in the shortest text in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” No wonder the reaction of the onlookers was “See how He loved him!”
It is never easy talking or writing about grief. It is felt at many different levels and there are many ways in trying to cope with it, but there are no tidy formulas. It may come as a surprise to some, but even the loss of a much loved pet can be a cause of great sadness, especially for anyone living alone where the pet was looked upon as a special companion, offering each day comfort and loyal companionship. But, without doubt, such loss is also a bereavement. Thinking about it, the world is full of innocent people who are suffering from loss one way or another, and many are asking the question, “Why?” What God did about this deepest and most painful of questions, was not to provide snap or unconvincing answers to it, but to enter fully into our human situation with all its sorrow and pain.
Grief throws us back on the faith that is within us. The process of bereavement is indeed agonising and in a real sense it never fully goes away, even after many years. We know life will never be the same, but we can take comfort in the One, who surrounding the death of Lazarus, would go on to make and demonstrate the most astounding claim that He was and is, the resurrection and the life. And by raising Lazarus from the grave, Jesus proved it beyond doubt for all who truly believe. And because of this truth, I hope we can all take comfort in knowing that death is not the end, but rather an entrance filled with eternal hope and promise. This is perhaps an opportune moment to mention that next month at Greenfield Methodist Church we will be holding another annual pastoral service for those who want to remember a loved one. The details of which are in the newsletter.
Peace and blessing to you all.