Updated: Jan 19, 2021
I did something last night that I have never done before. As we were leaving the airport, here in Kinshasa, there was a woman in front of me that was openly crying. Someone was trying to comfort her but everyone else looked away in discomfort. She was returning for a funeral. A child, a husband or maybe a parent had died. As I watched her, I allowed myself to imagine, I allowed myself to see in my minds eye, what she must be going through. Then I said out loud, “I think I’m going to cry with her.” It was a sob, really-one of those cries that made my chest shake. For more than twenty minutes I sat in the back of our taxi and cried. To be honest, it is not often that I let myself feel the emotions of others. I dismiss, even diminish the frustrations, complaints and pain of others in order to protect myself from emotions I just can’t handle. But last night I cried for, and with, a stranger.
I know I spoke about grief in another blog but that was general, somewhere out there -figurative. This grief, these tears, this loss was literal and it was right in front of me.
John 11:33-35 says, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.”
Jesus wept. When he saw the tears and pain of his friends, he wept. He felt human loss and he shared in the loss of others.
Matthew 9:35-36 says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every diease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
When Jesus looked at the crowd, he wasn’t seeing it from a distance, it wasn’t figurative, it was not merely imagined or in his mind’s eye. It was right in front of him. He saw their need and was moved with compassion. He recognized real lostness and he did not look away. But instead of judging them, questioning their intentions, or casting blame, instead of reacting in irritation or frustration, he felt compassion.
He could have condemned those that should’ve known better, but he didn’t. He could have cast blame, but he didn’t. He could have weighed out fault but he didn’t.
He was heart-sick.
He simply felt compassion and recognized their need. He loved without judgment.
Jesus had compassion and cried literal tears. He saw real people that were lost, confused, and hurting with real pain. It was this compassion and empathy; these tears of love that compelled him to lay down his rights of heaven to become like man.
When Jesus calls us to follow him, does he mean this? Did he mean we were to follow his example of compassion? To shed tears and grieve with others, even strangers?
To have compassion without judgment toward, in many cases, a self-inflicted, suffering world?
As I write these thoughts I am convicted. So often I am acting and reacting just like everyone else. But my cry in the taxi, the other night, shocked me. It reminded me that what the world needs is not more of the same. They don’t need us to figure it all out. They don’t need more arguments, more accusations or more bad news. People, our friends, our family, and the people right in front of us, maybe even strangers, need words that bring hope, words that bring life. They may even need our tears of compassion.
Lord, thank you for your incredible compassion toward me - I know it is undeserved. Help me to see who is right in front of me. Give me eyes of grace and compassion to see the pain and loss of others. Change my heart and change my attitude. Help me to simply love without judgment so that others can see you through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen