It’s merely one sentence in a story in Luke’s gospel: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’” However, that simple sentence, and the context in which we find it, touches us deeply as it inspires insight into what God calls us to do for each other. Through the example of Jesus’ life, God urges us to see the tears, catch the tears, and dry the tears of our neighbors as part of His mission to stop their tears.
An important part of the context of this story about Jesus (Luke 7:11-17) is that he was out and about. One seemingly mundane yet profoundly meaningful thing we know about Jesus is that he was no homebody. It’s not lost on us that Jesus was constantly going out to meet people where they are. He made himself available by going from town to town, neighborhood to neighborhood, to encounter the people in the midst of their need. We cannot join with God to stop the tears of our neighbors if we are not in their neighborhoods. We can’t see their tears from our front door.
As Jesus approaches the town gate in this narrative, a dead person was being carried out of town—“the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.” When Jesus saw the mother of the dead man, his heart went out to her—his heart overflowed with compassion. Jesus was not just in the woman’s neighborhood, which is an important prerequisite for what takes place. But, he saw her. He saw her tears. His heart broke for her. And he sought her out. Jesus got close enough to the woman to catch her tears and to say tenderly to her, perhaps as he dried her tears with his prayer shawl, “Don’t cry.”
What happens next is something that only Jesus can do. “He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” We are called to be present with our neighbors in their pain—to see the tears, catch the tears, and dry the tears of our brothers and sisters. However, only God can bring the resurrection and the growth and the healing and the renewal that stops the tears.
May we take great joy in the tender ministry we provide for each other as we join with God to fulfill the Soul Care Commission to “preach good news to the poor and to bind up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1). And may we experience deep fulfillment as God is glorified by the lives He resurrects in the midst of deep pain and sorrow.