How does your family deal with loss? 2006 was a difficult year for my family. We call it the year of death. I had a good friend who took his own life. Both of my wife’s grandmothers died, the church we had started fours years earlier died. To top it all off, during Holy Week, my wife’s father died suddenly in his sleep. He was only 64 years old.
That was a tough year. I remember when the phone call came. My wife was in the other room when she answered the phone. Her scream still chills my blood. The rest of that week moves in slow motion in my memory. She had to go to California with her sister to identify his body and make arrangements for him to be shipped back to Denver. We went through the motions of Easter with our church, then went to Denver to prepare a funeral.
There was lots of crying. Lots of questions. “Why, God? Why would you let this happen?”
I imagine that’s how Mary and Martha must have felt in the story we read this week in worship (John 11:1-44). Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was very sick, but he waited to go to him. Four days later Lazarus was dead and buried. Mary and Martha both said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, our brother would not have died.” I hear them saying, “Why did you let this happen?”
Notice how Jesus deals with each of them. Martha has theological questions, so he talks with her about our hope of resurrection. Mary, on the other hand, simply falls at his feet in grief. Jesus is overwhelmed by her grief, by his own grief, and by the sadness that death has to happen at all.
So, Jesus cries hard.
Sometimes that’s all we can do. Cry together.
We learn two things about grief in this story:
- It is OK to question God and to cry hard. It’s natural and necessary.
- There is hope beyond death. Jesus said that he is the resurrection and the life.
The daily reading from the Grow Guide this week offers two passages of hope. Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 and Revelation 21:1-8. Both of them talk about the fact that there is a hope of resurrection and new life beyond death.
So, how does your family deal with loss? Here are the questions from the Grow Guide to help your family process the text from this week:
- Have you ever received sad news as a family? Maybe someone is very ill, or maybe someone you love died. What kinds of things did you say and do after you heard the news?
- Jesus found out that his friend Lazarus died. He talked to Lazarus’ sisters, named Martha and Mary. Martha wanted to talk about it and Mary was just really, really sad. Notice that Jesus talked with Martha and cried with Mary.
- Talk about how each member of your family deals with sad news differently. Talk about how it makes you feel to know that Jesus will be with you, even in the saddest times.