Christians are Resurrection People. We truly are. Every Easter morn, pastors around the world declare, “He is risen!” And all God’s people say, “He is risen, indeed!” Truly, every Sunday is that celebration! We serve a risen Savior. The tomb is empty. Life is full. Death, where is your sting?
Except. Except that life still stings, sometimes. Maybe more than sometimes. Our hearts can be heavy. We are weary from the lingering weight of sin—around us, and within.
To lament is to express to God that sadness that sits in our souls. I wonder if we are sometimes hesitant to lament because it somehow seems “unfaithful” to admit that sorrow can feel bigger than we are. Perhaps it even feels bigger than God.
Is it possible that it is in this sorrow where we might meet God most closely? That He is there, waiting, because He deeply understands? That in our grief over sin and its effect, we may actually reflect God’s design and God’s heart? That in the midst of our sorrow we are “conformed to the image of His Son”?
Isaiah wrote a description of the coming Messiah that sounds more like defeat than deliverance: He was to be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3). And yet, this is the way of the gospel. The path toward the joy and victory of the empty tomb goes through the grief of Gethsemane and pain of Golgotha. It travels through our own grief and pain as well.
Our God understands sadness. The sorrow that Jesus felt, He felt perfectly. Completely. How grateful we can be that the Gospel writers share His lament.
Jesus wept at the tomb of His friend, Lazarus.
Even knowing He would raise this man from the dead, Jesus, the Lord of Life, mourned the pain and destruction that sin brought into the world. The Gospel writer tells us “When Jesus saw her (Mary, the sister of Lazarus) weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled. And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see’”(John 11:33-34). Jesus wept because He did see, more than they or we can imagine, the devastation of death. He wept with His friends, and for them. He wept because death is the enemy of all that He had created.
When we mourn the loss of life, whether in a moment or through days and months and years, we can know the care and company of Jesus, and hear Him say, “I am close to the brokenhearted”(Ps. 34:18).
Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
On a day of great joy and triumph, with shouts of praise and hosannas hanging in the air, Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem as the King of Peace. “And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!’”(Luke 19:41-21). King David’s greater Son entered the city to fulfill all that would be required to bring true peace with God. Yet many of the people to whom the promise had been given missed it completely. Jesus mourned their lack of faith and the ultimate separation from God it would bring. He wept because they would never experience His deliverance.
When we weep at the effects of disbelief, in our own lives and the lives of others, we hear the Lord’s promise: He rescues those whose spirits are crushed (Ps. 34:18).
Sorrow in the Garden.
On the night He was betrayed, Jesus and eleven of His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Knowing all that would unfold, Jesus felt the weight of what He was to do. He spoke to His friends: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch” (Mark 13:34).
Luke the physician describes the depth of Christ’s anguish: “And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Even as Jesus asked the Father to remove the cup of His crucifixion, He committed Himself to the Father’s will, no matter the cost: “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”
The faithful prayer in this garden was in response to the Father’s promise in another: in that first Garden, when sin entered the world, and God spoke the words of promised redemption:
“The Lord God said to the serpent:
‘I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel’” (Genesis 3:14a,15).
Jesus knew the cost of crushing Satan’s head would be His own, bearing the wrath that was owed to others. More completely than anyone, He felt the weight of sin.
In our lament, we too feel the weight of sin and its effects. Jesus meets us in the place of darkness and distance, and tells us that He has traveled the darkest road of all, alone, to bring us Home.
To bring us together.
To bring us to God, through faith in Him and all He has accomplished on the cross. United to Christ, we are forever reconciled to God.
This is His great joy. It is deep and profound, more than equal to His defeat and despair. Indeed, this is the joy that was set before Him and enabled Him to endure the cross —the reconciliation of His people!
In this season of Lent, as we prepare ourselves to hear again the glorious resurrection call, we experience the Joy of salvation all the more for having lamented its cost.
Photo by Stacey Franco on Unsplash
Lisa loves writing and creating gospel-centered resources for the local church. Married to PCA TE David Wallover, she is the author of the Beneath the Cross, the first in the Post Tenebras Lux Series of Good Friday services published by CDM. This series was created within the context of a local church community who deeply embraces the rich truth that God’s grace is greater than our sin, and shines all the brighter against the darkness.
Lisa also assists with Midwest Alliance Readiness Seminars for church planting couples, and is a member of the Parakaleo Leadership Community and the PCA’s WE (Wives of Elders) Connect Team. As empty nesters, Lisa and David love traveling to visit their kids’ new nests.