Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” – Luke 7:11-17
It is hard to find the right words to speak at a funeral. What can be said to express true sympathy? What can be said to offer real comfort and hope? What can be said that will last until the time of sorrow fades?
In my search for the right words, I might quickly rule out, “Don’t cry.” The words seem to convey a certain insensitivity and lack of understanding. So it is odd that Jesus would choose them. Didn’t he understand that the woman suffered a terrible loss? Not only did she lose her husband, now she lost her only son. She was alone. How could Jesus say, “Don’t cry?”
Jesus could never be accused of being insensitive. Nor could he ever be accused of being unaware of the loss this woman suffered. His heart went out to her. He understood her loss. Yet, he did not join her in her grief. Instead, he offered her real hope. When Jesus said, “Don’t cry,” he already knew what he was going to do, and how he was going to end her grief.
Often the challenges of life will bring me to tears. Certainly death will affect me in this way. There are other losses that will have an equally significant effect. The loss of a job, the loss of a home, the loss of stability, the loss of security, the loss of health – all have the ability to bring me to tears.
During this time of loss Jesus says, “Don’t cry.” He also tells me why I can move beyond my grief. Not only does he tell me everything will work out for my good (Romans 8:28), he also assures me he will give me the strength to endure everything I have to face (I Corinthians 10:13). Jesus makes it possible for me to go through this life with peace and joy, and it starts when he wraps his loving arms around me.
This peace and joy come as a result of his precious work. His perfect life removes the gloom of guilt and failure. His innocent crucifixion overcomes the sorrow of death and the grave. His victorious resurrection proclaims an unmistakable and lasting joy. His work as my Substitute and my Savior tells me, “I don’t have to cry.”
Through the psalmist, the Lord said to his people: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I need to listen to these words and put my trust in him. Jesus is the only one who can calm my troubled heart. Jesus is the only one who can cause my fears to vanish. Jesus is the only one who can say, “Don’t cry.”