Suffering is not bound by time nor space; it often strikes without warning. In real life, perhaps the most painful experience is the loss of our loved ones. The Bible has many records of people suffering for all kinds of reasons; and in particular, God shows special concerns for the orphans and the widows. He understands the pain and the sorrow, and He commanded the Israelites to take care of the foreigners, the poor, the orphans, and the widows among them.
Luke chapter 7 records the story of a widow who lived in Nain. Nain was located not far southeast from Jesus’ hometown Nazareth. When Jesus approached the town gate, he came upon a funeral. It was for the only son of a widow. In the agricultural society of those days, a woman’s livelihood depended on the men in her family. This woman was already widowed, and now her last and only hope was destroyed. The Bible describes a large crowd with Jesus, and also a large crowd with the widow at the funeral. A crowd sending off the dead, and a crowd following Jesus, meet at the town gate.
What happens when death meets the God of life?
Jesus saw the pitiful widow who had lost her only son, and his heart went out to her, and he said to her, “Don’t cry.” (Luke 7:13) The Bible records many incidents where Jesus responds to human suffering, and it is always full of empathy. Jesus went up and touched the bier, and said to the young man, “I say to you, get up.” (Luke 7:14) The young man heard Jesus’s words and sat up. The crowd once sorrowful now burst into sounds of awe and praises. The young man was alive again, and hope was renewed in the widow’s life. Only when we meet the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ do we have true comfort. Only Christ can change the cruel reality of death because only life can overcome death.
However, if the widow believed that her son’s physical life was her only hope and her everything, then even though she experienced such an amazing miracle, she would only be disappointed again in the future, because all life on earth must one day leave. True hope comes from the giver of life and the overcomer of death –Jesus Christ. Whether he gives life or takes away life, when we hold on and trust the Lord of life, we are able to find comfort in the midst of sorrow and suffering on earth.
By Winnie Chan, Local Preacher of Wesley Methodist Church, Sibu