In any atmosphere—of sorrow and grief, joy and delight, defeat and despair, or victory and euphoria—whatever pervades the whole contagiously affects the parts. I remember Professor Charles Mills recount his Holy Land trip in 1961. He and his companions motored through the Continent. He noted a feeling of oppression overcoming them on entering then communist-controlled Yugoslavia, only to be lifted when they crossed the frontier into Greece.
I write today of grief since Judy and I experienced it recently during two successive weekends. Good friends, and we with them, lost both a beloved wife, mother and sister and, four days later, her mother.
The sensation of loss particularly impacted me at the committal for the mother. One of her daughters, like a daughter to Judy and me, embodied the family’s grief, of which plenty existed and was expressed. Everyone’s sorrow seemed to be expressed in her sudden, convulsive onslaught of tears and weeping. On the way to the car I noticed tears in my eyes. I hadn’t cried. But Debbie had, and plenty of others, if less noticeably. The entire atmosphere of mourning in the family created the sense of loss and grief in the entire group. Tears came easy, gladness hard.
I wonder if that could help explain the Master’s reaction in John 11:35: “Jesus wept”. Tears flowed everywhere that day, accompanied by groaning and moaning and screams. Sensing it all, as one who identified with the people he came to help, Jesus expressed their sorrow in his own tears. (I consider it only a partial, but helpful, explanation.)
One difference existed. Where others could only weep, Jesus would banish tears. Where they could only mourn the loss of Lazarus, he would call him back from the dead. Which reminds us. There’s always enough sorrow in life to imperil our sense of JOY. But there’s always more than enough JOY in Jesus to overcome any sense of sorrow.