August 8, 2012

Lost and Found

I came across this passage in Luke recently and was deeply touched by Jesus' heart towards the widow, a woman living in the midst of tremendous pain and loss.

Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him.  A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her.  When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said.  Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.”  
Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother." 
~Luke 7:11-17

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In my mind's eye, I imagine the widow's face is drawn, her eyes are swollen from tears and deep, dark circles surround them.  She walks slowly and clumsily beside the coffin of her son, trying to hold her head high and find the strength to press on.  Shell shocked and numbed by grief, she wonders inwardly, "How did I get here?  When did my life take such a tragic turn?  My hopes and dreams are shattered and those I have loved most in life are lost to me now.  How do I possibly carry on?  How do I find the strength and courage to live?"

And then comes Jesus.

He's walking along the path with his friends, about to enter the village.  Countless people surround him... dozens of mourners and dozens of others who just can't get enough of his teaching and life.  But though he's encompassed by many, his heart is captured by one... a heartbroken, grief-ridden, struggling woman on her way to lay her only child to rest.

Upon one look at her, Jesus instantly feels her grief and loss.  Moved by love, sorrow and a strong desire to alleviate her pain, he tenderly approaches her, lays his hand upon her shoulder, looks into her eyes with a gentleness she hasn't known since her husband died and he tells her not to cry.  He reaches out and touches the coffin that bears her precious boy and he brings him back to life.  He gives her back what was lost.

Absolutely stunning.

Jesus sees the widow.  He truly and genuinely sees her.  He feels her pain as if it was his very own and moved by love, he heals not only her son, but her as well... her broken, bleeding heart, her shattered hopes and dreams.  His tenderness, compassion, strength and power on her behalf is staggering and amazingly beautiful to me... because it's familiar.

I know this story well.  I have been the widow and I have known this Jesus.  I, too, have experienced great suffering and loss and have truly been seen by him.  He has moved with power and love on my behalf to lay his hand upon the coffin of my life and give me back what was lost.  I've been found by him and in the finding, he's healed my heart and set me free.

"You have turned my mourning into dancing."  
~ Psalm 30:1

"I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free."  
~ Psalm 119:32


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