“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” – Matthew 14:13-14
We find Jesus at a low point emotionally. He has just been told about the beheading of his cousin John the Baptist. I’ve often wondered…since Jesus is God and knows everything, how did hearing the message of John’s death affect him?
What I have learned about grief is that even when you know death is eminent, it still leaves you devastated. Knowing something intellectually vs experiencing it emotionally is vastly different. You may know that somebody you love is not going to make it, but experiencing the loss is a whole different beast.
Have you ever tried to find the time and space to grieve only to be overwhelmed by other people’s needs? It may be the needs of family members or friends, work demands or some other responsibility that falls on you, and yet you just need time to yourself to mourn.
To Jesus, John the Baptist was more than a beloved prophet, he was family. There was injustice surrounding John’s death, it was senseless and there was so much to be angry about.
Maybe you feel the same way about someone you’ve lost. Maybe it’s unfair and unjust, and they were taken away in a manner that seems cruel and heartless. Perhaps you, like Jesus, are seeking solitude and yet you are bombarded with the needs of others. You want to be alone. You feel like you have nothing left to give but there are people depending on you, each with their own need.
Sometimes God seems to send us the opposite of what we need. You may feel you are approaching burnout and here come more responsibilities. It’s comforting to know that Jesus experienced this too.
Jesus wanted to be alone to grieve but the crowds followed Him with needs of their own. Instead of solitude, there was a crowd. Many were sick and Jesus had compassion on them and healed them.
If I were in Jesus’ shoes, I would have decided that the sick could be sick for one more day; I’d get to them tomorrow. But that is not what He did. He chose to address their needs immediately.
The thing about healing from a monumental loss is that it never looks the way we think it should. We have a formula in mind that we believe will work if we simply apply it, but grief is not a mathematical equation. It will feel like improv without the laughs, and nothing will make sense. You will be forced to flex emotional muscles you never knew you had, but the person you become during the process will amaze you.
You may be surprised by what you are capable of in your time of loss. Your grief may usher in a new level of compassion you never imagined. Jesus performed one of the most well-known miracles as he grieved John’s death. God can use your time of mourning to minister to you and through you.
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.