JOHN 11:33-36 (NIV)
"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 'Where have you laid him?' he asked. 'Come and see, Lord,' they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, 'See how he loved him!'”
“What’s wrong with the foreign sister?” one of the guests asked about me.
“She is sad because we started talking about Aunik. She loved him very much.”
Their words broke my silent reverie. Internally I perked up as my neighbor, still grieving from the loss of her 21-year-old son, went on to describe me to her relative.
“She came to me the night of his death. Everyone was there with me at my mother-in-law’s house as I cried, but she came and sat by me and cried with me. It is hard for her to enjoy the party tonight because she still thinks of him.”
Although it is true that I mourn the loss of this kind young man, I realized then that my friend does not fully understand my grief. She does not understand that my heart breaks for her, the one who will now never have a son to bring his wife to live with them and bear grandchildren for her. My heart breaks for her family who now prays, fasts, and slaughters a bull in the hope that God will have mercy and allow Aunik into paradise.
On the night of his death, this burden of love and grief led me to use my rudimentary vocabulary to retell the story of Lazarus to her.
“He, too, was the oldest and only son. He, too, had two younger sisters left behind with no one to provide for them. When he died, the Prophet Isa (Jesus) was so sad that he cried. He understands our pain! But then Isa asked God to make Lazarus alive again, and he did!”
My heart was racing as I realized that I had made it all the way through the telling of my first Bible story in this new language — a story that I was sure she would relate to and be amazed by. But I will never forget her empty eyes and tear-streaked face as she lifted her chin and replied, “Well, he didn’t raise my Aunik.”
And she walked out of the room.
That day my heart sank to the ground floor of our apartment building. How could the moment have gone so wrong? Had I ruined my chance of ever sharing the hope of Jesus with her? I wanted her to see my Savior as the one who grieves with us when the brokenness of this world makes everything go wrong, but it seemed that all she saw was his conspicuous absence.
Now, as the birthday party went on, I marveled at the fact that today, eight months after Aunik’s death and my boggled Bible story, the love of Jesus, expressed through my tears, was making a difference in my neighbor’s life. Somehow — thanks be to God — in spite of what seemed like failure, the story was not over yet.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- Think of a time when you felt like you failed in your attempt to describe or otherwise portray the love of Jesus. Close your eyes and replay that in your mind.
- Keeping your eyes closed, ask Jesus to show you where he was in that moment.
- Ask Jesus to show you a picture of his love, for you and also for the person you care about.
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lindsey, along with her husband and three children, serve with CRM in a densely populated Muslim region of South Asia.