Most of us find it hard to feel the love of God when we face harsh realities of life. Others walk with God so closely that they know harsh realities of this world are common to us all, and they seem to accept God’s love in spite of what they have to lose. I’m not sure which case the Widow of Nain from Luke 7 was experiencing.
Already a widow on the day Jesus met her, she was burying her only son as well. Tragedy upon tragedy—hers was a life well acquainted with sorrow. The whole town seemed to stop what they were doing to support this widow. Their presence almost speaks to the character of the woman with whom they felt so much sorrow. The crowd might have been stunned into silence; having no words, they were just there for this poor widow, doing what they could. They were carrying her son’s body to his grave. They were crying with her. They were telling her to eat some soup and drink some water because she was most likely unable to make those same choices on her own.
In the middle of the procession comes Jesus. Some have said that Jesus ruined every funeral He ever attended. He asks the absurd. He looks right at this widow (has compassion for her), and then tells this grieving mother at her son’s funeral not to cry! Jesus came to show us that when He is in our lives, we have a whole new way to look at funerals.
I can’t imagine that this woman had much time to think. Jesus moved quickly, knowing full well her inability to fulfill what He was asking of her without experiencing the reason why. Those carrying the body of the dead son stopped, most likely in surprise. After all, no one was prepared for someone interrupting a funeral service. They may have been prepared to stop since there was a large crowd following Jesus and a large crowd following the Widow of Nain to the city gate.
When they stopped, Jesus touched the son and talked to him. He sat up and then and there was another funeral ruined when Jesus showed up. Rather than death at a funeral, it became life at a funeral. No one had ever been to a funeral like this before. Everyone was awed and amazed.
I have no doubt both crowds were in awe and amazement, but my mind keeps flooding back to the widow. Did she know all along that God loved her and would love her through any tragedy she faced? Did she learn that the day she became a widow? Was she aware of how much God used the people of Nain to help her and support her as she raised her son alone? When the day came that she lost her only son, did she again know that God was still good, that this world and its diseases and premature death, even death at all, was not what her loving God wanted to inflict on people? Was she willing to accept what she had to about her life and remain trusting in God even more, since she had no son to take care of her until she died? Was that the reason that God ordered up Jesus’ steps to enter the Gate of Nain to come to a funeral that He was not invited to attend?
Why Jesus had compassion on her, we will never know. That Jesus did have compassion on her is His heart for every one of us. Luke 7:13:
When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, Don’t cry.
I know the Lord sees me and that His heart goes out to me and He wants my tears to end. That is what He has planned for every one of us—there will be no more tears in heaven.