Today’s text: Psalm 27-29 John 11:30-57
The poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox received inspiration for the poem Solitude while traveling on a train. It seems that a woman sitting near the front of the car could not contain her sorrow. As she sat there she would occasionally break out with waves of sobs. At the rear of the car and unaware of the woman rode a gentleman that was amusing the riders in the rows nearest him by telling funny stories. Ella observed that one by one the passengers moved away form the crying woman and crowded to the rear of the car to listen to the man’s humor. Ella later penned these words:
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
In today’s text from John 11 we have the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, a place that was familiar to Jesus, a place on which His blessing rested transformed into a place of mourning. When Mary, the one who had washed the feet of her Savoir with her tears and dried them with her hair; the one who had broken the alabaster box to anoint Him with its valuable contents. The one who had lavished her love upon him, now falling to her knees in grief leads us to the 35th verse where we read “Jesus wept.” Two words that speak volumes. He didn’t weep because of grief. He was there purposefully at that specific time to perform a miracle. He wept because of the tender sympathy he had for those who’s hearts were wrenched with sorrow. Hebrews 4:14-15 tells us “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. (15) Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Scripture records two other occasions when Jesus wept. Luke 19:41-44 records His sorrow for the city of Jerusalem. Matthew 26:38-39 and Luke 22:44 record the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane where He wept tears for the struggle that lay before Him. The prophet Isaiah refers to Jesus as “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”
As Ella observed, most men would rather avoid those who suffer. Those who would walk with you thru the valley are few. But we serve one who is familiar with the valley. One who strengthens us thru our weakness, who comforts us thru our loss, who guides us thru the wilderness, one who, “upholds us with His righteous right hand.” We are comforted by the one who has promised to be with us always even until the end of this age.