While sharing prayer requests with some people at my church, a weary mother expressed the heartache and confusion she is experiencing as she watches her teenage son break under all of the anger and pain he’s been carrying around. Another woman looked at her with eyes full of compassion and said, “We so badly want to fix our kids’ problems, but we can’t. And that is so hard to realize. And when we can’t fix it, we just have to hurt with them. I am so sorry. Hurting with your children is so painful.”
The majority of my life has been spent trying to fix things: myself, my circumstances, and problems that others bring to me. I so desperately want to fix what’s broken so that I don’t have to feel the brokenness. My life was a lot easier when I fixed everything. I wasn’t burdened by my own depravity. I wasn’t disturbed by my inconvenient emotions. I wasn’t crippled by my own inabilities. I wasn’t torn up over the fallenness of the world. My heart wasn’t broken for my friends. I was never interrupted by tears shed over the burdens of others.
But my humanity was hanging by a thread. I was barely alive. My heart was calloused, cold. I was trying to be God. And since I was trying to be God, I couldn’t have possibly been trying to be human. I was trying to hold it all, and as a result, I wouldn’t let myself be held.
And then, through two dear friends, I began to see that feeling was a part of real life—with all of its joys and sorrow—and it was actually something very beautiful. And I started to crave that real life; I longed for that, I yearned to be able to just sit and cry because that’s just what creatures are free to do.
And so I prayed. I prayed that God would break me. I prayed that He would enable me to feel what Jesus felt, He felt everything, and He felt it deeply. In John 11, Jesus goes to be with Mary and Martha after their brother Lazarus has died. When Jesus arrives at Lazarus’ tomb, we see something profound: Jesus hurts with this grieving family; he weeps. He willingly feels the full weight of all the pain instead of immediately fixing the situation. Later on, we know that he does ultimately fix it. But he chooses to feel first. Jesus is showing us that love suffers with, before it rescues. Only He had the ability to rescue, and He chooses to suffer first.
There is only one Rescuer, and we can stop trying so hard to be Him. There is only one Rescuer, and we are free to be fellow sufferers, to carry each other’s burdens, because we have One who daily bears ours.
Jesus, give us more of a willingness to hurt with others. We can’t fix them. We can’t even fix ourselves. Help us to move towards brokenness, not needing to fear the pain, for you have borne all of our griefs and sorrows. You have taken them to the grave, and the tomb is now empty. They have been conquered; they can no longer conquer us. We are free to feel, for we no longer have to hold all things together because they are being held together in you.