Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Don't Cry..."

Preface: Do you think it's possible to imagine how the widow of Nain felt after Jesus raised her son from the dead! How can we even envision such a thing? I feel completely inadequate trying to find words to describe something so out of the ordinary, something supernatural.  None of us has ever experienced having a child brought back to life, on the way to the cemetery. But she did! Our dear Lord Jesus, so filled with compassion, was moved by her tears. His heart went out to her. And right then and there, he touched her life in the most unbelievable way.

The widow from Nain tells her story:

"The last place I wanted to be was in another funeral procession, with my anguish laid bare in front of everyone. I was the center of attention, the recipient of sympathy and pity, but all I wanted to do was curl up in a dark corner somewhere and die. It was devastating to go through it again--first the death of my husband, and then my only son. I was convinced the aching pain in my heart from these losses was never going to go away.  My precious son had been a constant source of comfort and joy.  He was all I had. 

"As we followed the funeral bier being carried through the streets of Nain, villagers came out of their shops and homes and joined the procession. Some were truly sympathetic. But others joined the flow of people because it was custom to do so. They meant well--gazing at me and shaking their heads. As they silently fell in line, they wondered what would happen to me now, with no husband, no son to provide for me.

"It was true. I would be destitute: a victim of a dispassionate system. Just being a woman relegated me to an inferior status, but being a widow added another layer to the discrimination, making me easy prey for the unscrupulous and fraudulent.  But I no longer cared. Bent over in grief and tears blinding my eyes, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. 'Just keep going,' I told myself. 'Just keep walking.'  I remember the sound of shuffling feet on the stone streets was strangely mesmerizing, helping numb my tormented mind to the cruel reality of my loss.

"As we passed through the town gate, a man suddenly came up behind me and gently touched my shoulder. With a soothing voice, he tenderly said, 'Don't cry.' Before I could turn to see who it was, he hurried past me. It was Jesus, the teacher from Galilee. He went directly to the bier and laid his hand on it. I felt the crowd shrink back in shock as they observed a Rabbi ritually defile himself by touching a dead body--my son's dead body. The bearers of the bier stopped abruptly, startled that someone had interrupted a funeral procession.

"Everyone, mourners and onlookers alike, stood still.   Jesus, visibly moved with empathy said 'Young man, I say to you, get up!' Immediately, my son sat up! I gasped. My heart stopped as I heard my son begin to speak. Staring at everyone around him, he blurted, 'What's going on?'

"He had no idea what had happened. He thought he had just awakened from a dream. Recognizing some friends, he asked, 'What happened to me? Where am I?' Stunned and speechless, his friends just stood there with their mouths open, watching a dead person talk to them! Jesus quickly loosened the white linen burial garments that had bound my son in death. Helping him off the bier, he put his arm around my boy and led him to my open arms. The shocked crowd of witnesses trembled with fear and awe, and glorified God, calling Jesus a great prophet.

"Ever since that amazing event, I have often wondered, why me? As he happened upon our sad procession that day, what compelled Jesus to dry a widow's tears? Had he been thinking of his own impending death, and of his widowed mother?  And how broken her heart would be as she watched her firstborn son die on a cross like a common criminal?  Not many months later,  in his last agonizing moments of life, Jesus comforted his mother.  Fighting for breath and barely able to speak, he arranged for her to be cared for by his closest friend. So maybe that's why his heart went out to me. I can't say for sure. I only know that, somehow, my pain was important to Jesus. He felt my grief, he knew my uncertain plight and future, and he redeemed my life and changed my destiny by raising my only son from the dead.

Luke 7:11-16

(C) Joyce Catherwood 2010