In his book Windows of the Soul, Ken Gire observes:
Perhaps there are no greater windows of the soul than our tears.
The tears we cry are drawn from the well of who we are, a well that lies beneath the sedimentary strata of words, beneath even the Pre-cambrian layer of consciousness itself. They may seep to the surface like the smallest of subterranean springs or shoot to the surface like a geyser. They surface for odd reasons, or for no reason at all, or for reasons so pure and right and good that no force on earth could hold them back....
So much is distilled in our tears, not the least of which is wisdom in living life. From my own tears I have learned that if you follow your tears, you will find your heart. If you find your heart, you will find what is dear to God. And if you find what is dear to God, you will find the answer to how you should live your life.
In this passage we see Jesus's response to the tears of his friends.
Read John 11:1-37.
What is their attitude when he first arrives, and how does that change?
Why Did Jesus Wait?
Many often wonder why Jesus waited to travel to Bethany from the Perean countryside across the Jordan. After all, he responded immediately to the widow in Nain whose son had died (Luke 7:11-16) and to Jairus's request to heal his daughter (Luke 8:41-56). Why wait now? Why take so long? Verses 4-5, 11-14 provide some of the reasons.
Jesus' waiting should not be interpreted as a lack of compassion, though on the surface it certainly is difficult to understand. God's glory is always more important than our satisfaction or pleasure. Jesus had a greater mission, and the death, not healing, of Lazarus was central to his mission. Lazarus's resurrection was a foreshadowing of Jesus' resurrection, and it drove religious leaders to plan to get rid of Jesus (11:45-57).
Jesus also wanted to teach his followers about hope in the resurrection. This hope was to be centered in who he was—the Christ, the Son of God—and in what he was about to do (raise Lazarus as a demonstration of his power to raise the dead). Verses 40-42 give us an even greater purpose for this raising of Lazarus. Jesus wanted to demonstrate that belief in him would allow people to see God's power and glory.
Would any of these words also be used to describe you?
Have you ever had someone mourn with you over a death or difficulty in your life? If so, talk about that experience.
How might that play out in your life?
Remaining in small groups of two or three, spend some time in quietness. Read Psalm 6 and reflect on a time when you felt sadness, even shed tears. Were you aware of God's presence with you at that time? If not, ask him to meet you now as you remember that situation. Ask him to bring comfort and hope. The power and love of Christ is available now—directly and through the embrace and prayers of others in the group.
Spend some time praying as a group, thanking Jesus for embracing each of us in our tears, whether they were tears of sadness, disappointment, loneliness or grief.