She was in the hospital facing cancer that would take the use of her legs and lower body function. Would I reach out to her? Write her a letter?

Before Tristan died I would not have known what to say. But now I am drawn to the grieving because sorrow is a shared language.

I thought I would send her the book that meant the most to me when Tristan died–“When God Weeps”. Today that book was returned to me, along with the letter I had sent Diane. Not because she didn’t want it, but because she no longer had use for it. It was found on her bedside table after she died.

Dear Diane, 

I’ve been thinking about you a lot since you’ve entered this season of sorrow. I’ve found some interesting things as I’ve been searching the scriptures in my grief. I thought some of them might encourage you so I’m sending them along.

Did you know it’s not wrong to be sorrowful, or depressed? Or distressed that God has not given you something yet?  I say that because I found Jesus being all of those things. 

Reading about Him made me feel closer to Him because He shares all those things with me. He knows what it feels like so He can send the comfort I need, the “mercy and grace to help in time of need” and this is certainly a time of need! He is described as being like us in every respect except with no sin, so I went to find it in the gospel accounts. I just didn’t expect to hear it from his own lips:

 ” I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled. But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished. ” Luke 12:49-50 

Doesn’t that sound like something we would say? How I wish it were already________. Whatever our “it” is. How distressed I am until ______________ is accomplished.

We would be tempted to counsel someone to accept what God has given them, or to wait patiently for the Lord to act. Which can be true, but wishing and distressing are not sin, because Jesus did those things. 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb 4:15-16  

This verse has never been more true to me. And God made sure we saw just how distressed and needful Jesus was in His humanity.

I was also surprised to find how sad Jesus was. Have you ever felt so sad you could die? Would you believe it if I said Jesus felt that way?

38 Then He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; (Matt. 26)

 He was drowning in sorrow to the point of death in the Garden of Gethsemane. Did you know you can die from sorrow? That’s what burst His capillaries so that He sweat great drops of blood. That’s why the angel came and strengthened Him so that He could make it to the cross.

Proof of this is that once He was on the cross He didn’t last long, like the other men whose legs had to be broken to hasten their death. Jesus had already almost died from sorrow in Gethsemane. (Matt 26:38)

All of this was just after He had experienced the death of “the one whom (He) loved”. Lazarus. Lots of people were at Lazarus’s house crying and moaning and wailing for Lazarus. But the word used for Jesus in that famous verse, “Jesus wept” means He “burst into tears”. It was such a different way of crying, that it made everybody that was already crying, stop and look. It made them say, “Look how He loved him.” This is real grief. Real sadness. Not just bible story sadness. Never forget He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. The Greek word for “acquainted” means “intimately”.  It lived inside of Him and made Him burst into tears.

So when you feel alone in your grief, in your sorrow, in your distress, or in your longing know that the Savior went there before you.

When I feel like Tristan was alone in his sorrow I can know that Jesus was with him and understood the great depths of his pain because Jesus knew what it was like to feel that depressed.

Yes it’s true that He will carry you and strengthen you and joy comes in the morning, and He turns mourning into dancing, and gives beauty for ashes, but most of the time there is a long period of struggle before any of that happens. And if that is where you find yourself now, He went there first. He understands it because He said it about his own life. I’m praying that you’ll feel closer to Him knowing these things, and that closeness will bring you comfort.

It was an honor to have spoken into Diane’s life before she went home to be with the One who loved her best.