DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

Jesus wept. – John 11:35

This is probably the first verse that most of us ever memorized. Why? Because it was short and easy. But short and easy can make it more likely that we’ll miss the incredible power of God’s word to tell us something important in just 9 letters combined into two words.

I have often wondered why Jesus wept. I’ve heard many different interpretations, but the most common are that 1) he was moved by the grief of his friends; 2) he was grieving himself over the loss of Lazarus; 3) he was agonizing over the effects of the fall on humanity – and death was included as part of that fall. I don’t know for sure why he wept, but I rather doubt it was the second one – after all, Jesus knew perfectly well what he was going to do in Bethany that day. But whatever we do, we shouldn’t let our not knowing why Jesus wept distract us from the fact that he did weep.

The shortest verse in the Bible is probably also one of the most poignant and important verses of all time. Some ancients believed that the gods lacked emotions. Their reasoning was that if the gods had emotions then they could be swayed by people and events and that they would no longer be gods. So, they held that the gods must be stoic and untouched emotionally from human affairs. Jesus destroys that notion. Jesus shows us a God who weeps. This is important for at least two reasons: 1) it gives me hope that my prayers can move God, just as God was moved by the requests of Moses and David and many others throughout history; 2) it comforts me to know that Jesus understands heartbreak caused by living in the human condition. It makes me able to go to him and know he “gets it”. And it gives me hope that when I weep, he weeps with me, even as he wept with his friends in that cemetery in Bethany.

You may need someone to weep with you, to share your sorrow and grief. Jesus is that Person you need. He is “the man of sorrows”, “acquainted with grief.” Scripture doesn’t tell us those things just to be telling us facts about Jesus, but to know he sympathizes with us to the point of sitting beside us and crying himself.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for inspiring John to record that Jesus wept. May all who weep today find comfort in His Presence beside them! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

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DayBreaks for 7/26/16 – Laughing All the Way Home

DayBreaks for 7/26/16 – Laughing All the Way Home

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

You probably remember as I do the story of the Five Little Pigs.  Yep that’s right, not the Three Little Pigs, but the game that you played with your children’s toes when they were just wee things.  Do you remember?  “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none, but this little piggy, THIS little piggy went “Whee-whee-whee” all the say home!”

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much my little girl enjoyed that every night at bedtime.  Of course, as I went through the story, I’d grab one of her teensy-weensy little toes between my fingers and begin to recite the tale.  And when I got to the last one, well, I’d shake her foot and talk in funny voices, and be very, very happy and she’d crack up laughing.  Such memories!!! 

The last little piggy had it made.  It wasn’t worried about shopping, it wasn’t agoraphobic, it didn’t worry about whether or not to eat beef, it wasn’t in want – in fact, it celebrated!  “Whee!  Whee!  Whee!”  What’s not to envy?

At a recent conference, Tony Campolo asked a very penetrating question that reminded me a bit of this old game.  It goes like this: “When you were born, you were the only one who cried and everybody else laughed with joy.  But that’s not important.  What’s important is when you die – will you be the only one that’s happy and everyone else crying?”

I suppose that the best alternative of all is that when I die, I’ll be laughing and going “Whee!  Whee!  Whee!” all the way home, just like that little piggy.  And I hope that I will have lived in such a way that those who knew me, and especially my family and dearest friends, will not be crying, but that they, too, will be happy for me.  

The key of course, when we die, is whether we will be happy with the destination towards which we go, or whether we will be crying still – even as we did when we entered into this world.  It seems strange that we celebrate a birth and mourn a death of those who are born again.  I plan to rejoice (by God’s grace and mercy alone!) when I leave this place behind.  I hope and pray that you will leave this world crying “Whee!  Whee!  Whee!  All the way home!”

PRAYER:  What power You have, God, that allows us to laugh in the clenches of death!  The resurrection of Your Son was the laughter that echoed through the vaults of heaven and which escorted Him back to Your right hand – at home.  Help us to live so that not only we, but our loved ones, may rejoice when we go home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/21/15 – I Heard My Brother Crying

DayBreaks for 10/21/05: I Heard My Brother Crying

Some years ago in a small village in the Midwest, a little twelve-year old girl named Terri was babysitting her little brother. Terri walked outside to check the mail. As she turned back from the mailbox, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The house was on fire. So very quickly the little house was enveloped in flames.

Terri ran as fast as she could into the flaming house only to find her baby brother trapped by a burning rafter which had fallen and pinned him to the floor. Hurriedly, Terri worked to free her brother. She had trouble getting him loose as the flames were dancing around their heads. Finally, she freed him. She picked him up and quickly took him outside and revived him just as the roof of the house caved in.

By this time, firemen were on the scene and the neighbors had gathered outside the smoldering remains of the house. The neighbors had been too frightened to go inside or to do anything to help, and they were tremendously impressed with the courage of the twelve-year old girl. They congratulated her for her heroic efforts and said, “Terri, you are so very brave. Weren’t you scared? What were you thinking about when you ran into the burning house?” I love Terri’s answer. She said, “I wasn’t thinking about anything. I just heard my little brother crying.”

Let me ask you something? How long has it been? How long has it been since you heard your brother or sister crying? How long has it been since you stopped and did something about it?

PRAYER: God, give us open ears, but even more, open hearts to be touched by the cries all around us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 3/19/15 – God Has Loved My Matthew

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DayBreaks for 3/19/15: God Has Loved My Matthew

Walter Wangerin is an American author and educator who is best known for his religious works and children’s books.  He has many delightful stories, but one in particular is very touching: “Matthew, Seven, Eight, and Nine” about how he tried to stop his son Matthew from stealing comic books. He tried various uses of the law over several years and continued to fail.

Finally, he resorted to something he rarely used: a spanking. He did it deliberately, almost ritualistically, and he was so upset when he finished that he left the room and wept. After pulling himself back together, he went in to Matthew and hugged him. A number of years later, Matthew and his mother were doing some general reminiscing, and Matthew happened to bring up the time when he kept stealing comic books. “And you know why I finally stopped?” he asked. “Sure,” she said, “Because Dad finally spanked you.” “No!” replied Matthew, “No, because Dad cried.”

Wangerin concludes with these words: “Hereafter, let every accuser of my son reckon with the mercy of God, and fall into a heap, and fail. For love accomplished what the law could not, and tears more powerful than Sinai. Even the Prince of Accusers shall bring no charge against my son that the Final Judge shall not dismiss. Satan, you are defeated! My God has loved my Matthew” (Walter Wangerin, Jr., The Manger Is Empty, pp. 116-132).

What the law can never do, love does.  And God weeps over us.

PRAYER: Jesus, I suspect that the tears you shed at Lazarus’ tomb were tears shed for all of us in our sinful and fallen state.  I am touched by your care for us and the love evidenced by your compassion toward us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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