A dead man was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When he saw her, the Lord had compassion for her and said, “Don’t cry.” – Luke 7:12b-13
The times that made me question my pastoral calling were when people faced hideous things. Most painful was when something happened to a son or daughter. A lingering death. A traffic accident. A drug overdose. A suicide.
If life teaches us anything, it’s that such things happen regardless of a person’s faith or character. There’s no understanding why. It’s just ingrained in the nature of things on planet earth.
I’ve come to realize, though, that the pain of such times ultimately opens us to a different level of living. It forces us to become vulnerable. Our everyday plans go out the window. What we thought was important, and perhaps what we stressed over, suddenly becomes insignificant. We don’t know how to act or what to say. We grow numb as well as uncertain, at the mercy of our emotions.
And we discover, in our lowest point, the goodness that lies in the hearts of others. Vulnerability draws people to us in more authentic ways.
In the passage from Luke, a widow grieves her son’s death. A “large crowd” turned out for her. And Jesus, who was headed in a different direction, made a detour to her.
There are no superficial conversations when someone is vulnerable like this. Tears do the talking. And yet profound changes slowly take place because we discover that, at life’s most painful bottom, we are not alone.
We ultimately live deeper lives. Depth replaces superficiality. We become more giving. We take up causes that reach out to the hurting. And in doing so, we discover that Jesus, indeed, changed his plans to be with us.