One of the character traits I most love about Jesus is His tenderness. It stands in sharp contrast to the edgy, sarcastic, and demanding verbiage of our times.
In Psalm 111:4, the Psalmist praises God because “he has caused wonders to be remembered.” He goes on to write, “the LORD is gracious and compassionate.” We see this so beautifully lived out in flesh and blood through the life of Jesus.
One of my favorite stories of Jesus is tucked in the Gospel of Luke. It’s only mentioned one time in one gospel. The story must have had a profound effect on Dr. Luke, since he is the only one who makes mention of this event. After Jesus had been in Capernaum, He went to the town of Nain. As He was walking into town He noticed a funeral procession. The son of a widow had died (Luke7:11-16).
When Steve and I were visiting Ethiopia last Spring, we noticed many funeral tents set up in different parts of the city. When someone dies, a tent is set up for at least 3 days and relatives and friends from all over come to visit. In our story in Luke, they were carrying the body out of the city which likely means this young man had been dead for a few days. His mama would have likely already had her friends come to weep with her.
Though we don’t know much about this son, the Greek word used here for son is monogenes and, interestingly, the exact interpretation for this word is “only begotten son.” It also carries the idea of a unique relationship between parent and child. We also know the son was young – young enough to be a help to his mama who was a widow.
This woman had already lost her husband and now, grief upon grief, she had lost her only son. I can’t imagine her grief – can you? I chatted this week with a friend who has lost someone very close to her and she mentioned that our culture doesn’t know how to handle grief. That’s true, isn’t it? However, it’s not so with Jesus.
Jesus was filled with compassion when he saw what was happening. His heart went out to this mother. And He spoke tenderly, “Don’t cry” (Luke 7:13). His tone is soft and comforting. Then He went to the casket and spoke directly to her son, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” (Luke 7:14). The dead son rose and began to talk. Imagine His mama’s heart!
As I’ve reflected on this story, I am reminded of:
The Tenderness of Jesus. The depth of the tenderness of Jesus is astounding. He is moved with compassion and feels with us when we are in sorrow or suffering. He fully enters in and does not stand at a distance. The Psalmist cries out to God, “Record my misery; list my tears in your scroll: are they not in your record?” (Psalm 56:8). Friend, your tears are precious to Christ. He was a man acquainted with sorrow, and every time you cry He enters into your pain with compassion.
The Closeness of His Presence. Sometimes in the dark valley of suffering, we may wonder where His presence has gone. We experience what the ancient writer, St. John of the Cross, called, “the dark night of the soul.” However, even in the dark valley of the shadow of death, He is near. Be assured, Christ is always close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). When you suffer, He suffers with you.
The Power in His Touch. Finally, we need the reminder of the power of His almighty touch. Just one touch of His hand can raise the dead or part the waters or move mountains. When He chooses to not act as we had hoped by healing or removing burdens, our challenge is to keep trusting. We must echo the cry of the Father who brought His very sick son to Jesus, “Lord I do believe. Help me with my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Lord Jesus, thank you for your tenderness. When I am grieving and I cannot understand your plan, help me to remember that your tenderness is still available, your presence is tangible, and your power is transformative.
This week on The Connected Mom Podcast we talk with author and speaker Megan Brown about how we can best support military moms. Megan is the founder of MilSpo Co. – an organization dedicated to connection, community, and commission of military spouses. Don’t miss this one if you have a friend or family member who is a military spouse!