Not long ago, I heard some thoughts at church that impacted me greatly. The speaker has a strong background in the languages of the Bible. She brought our attention to the punctuation in a very well known passage of scripture.
It is the story in John 11 where Lazarus dies and Jesus purposefully does not show up until 4 days later. He has a deep discussion with Mary and Martha about the theology of the resurrection and then we read those powerful words, “Jesus wept.”
I have heard much preaching on that topic. I understand that Christ entered into our human experience and deeply mourned the death of His friend. But I never considered the period at the end of that sentence.
Apparently in Greek, that period is very significant. It suggests much more than the end of a thought. It conveys the idea of a real pause…a time out if you will. It reflects so much more than just the end of a sentence.
By example, Jesus was indicating a need to provide space and opportunity to feel, think, and process all the emotions associated with loss. He stopped and wept. In a sense, He was giving permission for all of us to find space and time to deal with the hurts of life. No glossing over, no trite phrases of encouragement, no fake compassion…just a meaningful pause.
That period at the end of that small sentence is huge. It signifies time to hurt. Time to deal with anger. Time and space to question. Opportunity to fuss at God and express deep disappointment.
We all know friends or family members who are hurting. (Or perhaps we are experiencing pain ourselves.) The temptation is to try and move them along in their grief. We share passages of scripture, we give advice, and in a well-intended way, we try to motivate them towards joy.
But maybe this week, we can take a different tack. Let’s grant a blessed “pause.” Let’s all acknowledge that there is a period after the statement that Jesus cried at the loss of His friend.
People all around us are experiencing the loss of a job or a dream. They have buried a loved one or experienced the death of a vision. They hurt. They need time.
Let’s come along side and wait. Let’s give space and opportunity for processing and understanding to catch up with their circumstances. Let’s cry with them and stop at the period for a while.
And if such a loss has hit you…grant yourself the privilege of stopping at the period too. I promise you, Jesus will meet you there!