The magnitude of your JOY!

In this last year, since Easter 2020, we have all suffered loss. COVID-19 provided us all the opportunity to see how we handle life when it gets hard. You may already know that I (Linda Smith) recently coauthored a book that came out in January, 2021. That was a first for me. It’s called Don’t Lose Heart: A Widow’s Guide to Growing Stronger. Widows are not the only ones who experience grief and loss, however. I’m sure you have too. As we approach Easter and the Resurrection, let’s remember, there must be death before there can be resurrection. I quote here from our book:

“John 11 tells the story of three siblings, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus who were close friends of Jesus. (It was this same Mary who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears.) But just because they were close to Jesus did not mean they would escape sorrow in this life. While Jesus was in another town, Lazarus became deathly ill. Having seen Jesus perform many miracles, Mary and Martha sent word for Jesus to come and heal their brother. Jesus, knowing that He intended to raise Lazarus back to life, purposely delayed until after Lazarus had died.

When Jesus arrived, He was greeted by Lazarus’ sisters and a group of people in mourning. Even though He knew that the situation was only temporary, He was very sad. He did not tell Mary, Martha, and the rest of the mourners to stop crying, but empathized with them and entered into their grief. John 11:33–36 tells us, “When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Jesus wept too.

Jesus was The Great Teacher. Here Jesus was demonstrating how to be present with and love those who are grieving. He was showing us how to weep with those who weep. He was saying, “It is okay to be angry, to be sad, and to cry when you lose a loved one”. He didn’t rebuke Martha and Mary when they blamed Him for letting their brother die because of His absence. He also didn’t jump to fix the situation, first, before demonstrating that He understood and cared about their emotions.

But once Jesus demonstrated His presence, love, and empathy, He didn’t stop there! He proved that He IS the resurrection and the life by raising Lazarus from the dead! What joy for everyone present – and for all who would hear about it! In raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus not only gave Lazarus back his earthly life, but proved that Jesus is the one who holds the power over death! “

After the death of Jesus and all the deep sorrow and grief experienced by Jesus’ followers, imagine the MAGNITUDE of the JOY they must have experienced when God raised Jesus from the dead – the first Easter! Romans 8:11a says, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.” Have you allowed that Spirit to do all the resurrecting in you that He wants to do? You can choose this powerful Life of the Spirit to dwell in you. Imagine the magnitude of YOUR JOY!

Linda R Smith

The Widows Project leader

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