Jesus' Comforts Are Not 'One Size Fits All'

by Jared Sparks October 26, 2016

I have taught and been taught a great truth. When a person is going through deep suffering, it would be inappropriate to give them a theological treatise on suffering. The better way would be to obey Romans 12:14 and "weep with those who weep." But does this mean that we are to avoid reminding people of the truth? In the midst of suffering is there only one Biblical option? To "weep with those who weep?" The Bible calls us to more. Let's take a look at the particular ways in which Jesus brings comfort to Mary and Martha in John chapter 11.

     We pick up the story after the "late" arrival of Jesus. John 11:21-23 "Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.' Jesus said to her 'Your brother will rise again.'" This is interesting because Jesus does not weep at first. Notice what Jesus does; he reminds Martha of the truth. Jesus makes theology practical. This is what Martha needed.

     We can learn from this that God is going to allow us to grieve with many people over our lifetimes. Weeping may be the last thing the non-weeping person needs. It could be that the angry griever needs to be reminded of the truth. It may be as simple as saying, "I don't understand, but I know you can trust Him." or "Don't buy the lie of the Enemy. God does still love you. Remember Romans 5:8. The cross declares his present love of you." We must be able to use wisdom to help those that are grieving. Unique pain cannot be helped with "one-size fits all" comfort.

     Later in John 11, we get to see how Jesus grieves with Mary. John 11:32-33 "Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly trouble." And later in verse 35 "Jesus wept." Jesus knew how to weep with those who weep. Mary did not receive the same truth reminders that Martha did. The woman with tears received tears in return.

     We would do well to learn how to grieve with people. Pain is a part of the human experience on earth. We will suffer, and we will suffer with others. We will experience the particular comforts of Jesus. Let us learn from that and use wisdom in how we bring comfort to others.