12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’ – Luke 7:12-13
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last Tuesday marked the 1st anniversary of lockdown and one of the striking things for me was reading stories in the news of people sharing names and memories of those they had lost to Covid-19. Reading these stories was heart-breaking and it brought home to me just how much grief and suffering and pain has been experienced in our communities over the last 12 months; these people lost to Covid were once parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, wider family members, friends, and work colleagues. In the midst of my sadness I was reminded again of one of my favourite Bible stories; Jesus and the widow of Nain.
In this story Jesus encounters a funeral procession. The chief mourner, we are told, is a mother grieving the loss of her only son. This mother was also a widow. We don’t know how long she had been a widow for but it’s not hard to imagine how the pain of her husband’s loss, now combined with the loss of her one and only son, had caused her untold grief. In times like these, it might be tempting to wonder whether God even sees, cares or knows; maybe we have doubted and asked such questions in the wake of such an uncertain and upsetting time. Please can I assure you that this is a perfectly understandable and normal response. The Bible is full of faithful people who have questioned and doubted God when life is hard and full of pain. Please can I also reassure you that God seeks to comfort and reassure us in these times; He does see, He does care, and He does know. We see a wonderful picture of this in the passage when Jesus encounters the widow. As Jesus meets with her, he doesn’t move aside, bow his head, wait for the procession to pass by and then carry on with his life. Instead he stops and engages with her. He meets her in her pain and loss. His heart goes out to her. He feels her pain deeply and is moved to the very core of his being. In Jesus we can see that God knows and understands our human pain. He cares about our loss. He knows when we are overburdened with grief, and his heart goes out to us. He longs to meet with us and give us the help, comfort, and hope we need. Next week we shall look at this hope as Jesus brings the boy back to life. But for now as we approach Easter week, let’s reflect upon and find comfort in the God who sees, knows and cares. And let’s look to him to bring us the help, comfort and hope we need as we face loss.
It’s my prayer for St Martin’s that over the coming Easter week we will discover for the first time or afresh the God who meets us in our grief.
Yours in Christ