Jesus wept.
—John 11:35

Why do people get sick and die? The Bible says there are various reasons we get sick. Sometimes it is because of sin. James 5 addresses a particular kind of sickness that is caused by sin in our life. Sometimes sickness is a natural part of dying. If we didn’t get sick, we wouldn’t die. If we didn’t die, we could not be changed from this life into the next life. Regarding the death of Lazarus, Jesus said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (John 11:4).

Let’s look at the story: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was” (v. 5-6). That seems to be a strange response from someone who loved Lazarus, but Jesus had a different plan than immediate healing. “After that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I might awaken him out of sleep’” (v. 11). When a Christian dies, he doesn’t cease to exist. The Bible simply uses the term “sleep.” By the way, the word “sleep” refers to the physical body, not the soul of a person. There’s no such thing as soul sleep. Finally, after the days had passed, Jesus came to Bethany.

“Martha then said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’ . . .When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see’” (vv. 21, 33–34). Then, “Jesus wept” (v. 35).

It is interesting that Jesus–who had all the correct theology, who knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead–when Jesus was confronted with death, He wept. Don’t let anyone tell you that to grieve over the death of a loved one is somehow unspiritual or unchristian. Jesus wept. It was a natural part of the grieving process.

Jesus can empathize with your pain. He knows what it is to stand in front of the tomb of someone he loved dearly. Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” When you experience the loss of a loved one, you have Someone in heaven who understands, Someone you can talk to, Someone from whom you can receive grace.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Getting Over Grief” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.