Jesus wept. John 11:35 (NIV)
In the book publishing business it’s called a “three hankie read” – a novel that brings readers to tears. Every novel and movie should invoke some emotion: fear, sorrow, sympathy, or laughter. The intent is for author and reader to bond — to transcend space and share emotions virtually.
In my own novels I go for the quick laugh. Life is tough enough as it is, why spend all your time crying when you can cackle a little?
But I’m in a very small minority. When Mom died, I laughed during her funeral. My cell rang during the preacher’s prayer and I knew without answering, it was Mom calling to remind me to turn off my phone during the service. Later, when I casually mentioned to friends and distant relatives Mom called during her funeral, they didn’t think my comment was funny. But then, they don’t know Mom like I do.
The cool thing about the Gospels is we get snippets of Jesus as a man, son, brother, friend, teacher, student, savior, servant, and God. He laughs, scolds, councils, and yes, cries. This is the God we serve and worship — not a vague, cosmic, starry-heavens deity, but a God with skin on and tear ducts that weep.
Jesus knew Lazarus would rise and live again, so why the tears? Why not run up to the tomb and tell the others to put away their hankies? I think at that moment Jesus felt that unbearable loss we feel when a hole in our heart opens and the person we love most leaves for good.
Leaves … for GOOD. That’s the message of the tomb. Those we love, leave, but not forever. They leave for good.
Yes, ours is a three-hanky life but as with most great romances, the conclusion of The Book promises a happy ending. Allow those you love to leave for good. Then go find them beyond the tomb.