For the past month or so I have been really touched and challenged with Luke 7:11-17.
Jesus, as He is traveling to the village of Nain with His disciples, is met by a funeral procession that is coming out of the village gate. Verse 12 gives us the extra details that the “young man who had died was a widow’s only son.”
Think about the description of this event. This would have been a tragedy to encounter for a couple of reasons:
1) The boy would have been dead for a numbers of hours now. The boy may have been sick for some time before as well. Jewish culture required a quick burial but the process wouldn’t have been carried out until it was certain. Once it was certain, the body was wrapped in burial cloth and anointed so as to preserve the body. Then the body would be carried out of the city to be buried. When Jesus comes onto the scene, there has been a lot of mourning, preparation and certainty that this boy was dead.
2) The woman is described as a widow and the son she lost is described as her only son. This woman culturally would have been absolutely hopeless. Within the masculine culture, she would have had no family to take care of her, no standing in society and basically homeless and poor. With the death of her only son, this widow had nothing left in the world!
It is at this point that Jesus enters the picture. He see’s the woman, quickly realizes the pain and hopelessness that this woman must be feeling and he approaches her with compassion. Then Jesus then tells the woman that everything will be ok and He will raise her son from the dead and save the day….right? Wrong. Jesus simply says, “Don’t cry.”
Don’t cry? Are you kidding me? Out of all the things Jesus could have said this should have been the last. It seems so cold and distant. Anyone who has ever tried to comfort someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one can tell you that simply telling a person to not cry 1) doesn’t work and 2) will probably make the person cry more because of your insensitivity. But nonetheless, Jesus said, “Don’t cry.”
In the verses that follow Jesus goes on to raise the young man from the dead and gives the boy back to his mother. Jesus’ proclamation of, “don’t cry,” wasn’t insensitive but it was because Jesus knew what was about to happen. He knew that He was going to raise the boy from the dead and hand the boy back to his mother.
This made me think about difficult situations in my own life. Sometimes life is hard and things just don’t go the way we want. We get frustrated, stressed out and at times angry with God. We ask how He could allow certain things and wave our fist in the air as if it’s actually going to change something. We seek God for wisdom and direction asking Him what to do next. How does God respond to these questions?
Sometimes He is specific, but in my life, more often than not its with things like, “trust me,” “I got your back,” or “everything will be ok.” Don’t cry?! It makes me want to just tell God that it is easier said than done and demand answers.
What is so important out of this text though, and what is challenging me, is that when Jesus tells us these things it’s not because He doesn’t get our pain or because He doesn’t care. It’s because He is about to do something.
Our God is a Redeemer. He is a God who doesn’t want to leave things where they are but instead to draw them closer to Himself…and that includes our lives.