“Jesus wept.” (John 6:35)
With what baptism of suffering was not Jesus baptized? What cup of sorrow did not he drink? Well may he ask, “Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” “Yes, Lord,” every believing saint may reply, “by Your grace I am able; for, while without You I can do nothing, with You strengthening me I can do all things.” Jesus replies, “You shall, indeed, drink of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; for all my members shall be conformed to me, their head.” “Dear Lord,” responds the believing soul, “if affliction, temptation, and sorrow but mold me into Your image, and conform me to Your life, do with me as seems good in Your sight.”
There are few sorrows more bitter and more keenly felt, than the sorrow of bereavement. Jesus knew what this sorrow was; let us consider him in this light.
Are you bereaved? So was Jesus. When the wondrous words were written on which this meditation is founded, he was weeping at the grave of the friend he deeply, tenderly loved, and now as tenderly and deeply mourned. Baptized with your present baptism of woe, drinking your present cup of grief, he knows your sorrow, can fathom with his love its depths, soothe with his sympathy its anguish, and enter into all the intricate and delicate network of the loss and loneliness it entails. “Jesus wept.”
And still in compassionate sympathy he weeps with those who weep. How truly human was the heart, and divine the arm, of Jesus. With the one he moistened the grave with tears, and with the other he unclosed its doors and set its captive free. Both these natures — the divine and the human — encompass you in your present bereavement. You need both, and both you have. The exercise of his divine power in resurrection he may reserve for the moment when “those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him; when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” But the outflow of his human sympathy shall be now, tear mingling with tear, sigh responding to sigh, in this dark hour of your calamity.
My soul, let your first, your great desire be — not that your wound may be stanched, or your grief soothed, but that your God may be glorified in the fires; that henceforth your smitten and grieved heart may enshrine and enthrone Jesus, as the object of its single homage, and as the sovereign of its supreme rule. Has your God written you a widow? Then will he be to you the widow’s God. Has he made you an orphan? In him the fatherless finds mercy. Has he by this visitation of death broken a supporting staff, dried a spring of affection, severed a source of supply, put out the lights of life one by one? Fear not! You shall now lean upon his arm, repose upon his heart, live upon his resources, and walk in his light. Thus learning by sweet, though painful experience, that the Lord never removes one blessing but to replace it with a greater; never seals up one spring of happiness but to unseal a deeper one. Then, let your bereaved heart exclaim — “Whom have I in heaven but You, and who is there on earth that I desire besides You?” (Ps. 73:25) All are not gone! Your God may have removed one by one of earth’s sweet treasures; but he will never take himself from you. Death may rob you of all but Christ.
Launched on the tide of God’s eternal love,
His ark beneath you, and his light above,
What can you fear? Be still, my soul, be still!
Your God has never left you — never will.