It was one of those uncomfortable moments in the store. A young mother with three small children was trying to get her shopping done. The middle child by size (about two, I’d say) was not happy. She was ready to go home. I understand that feeling. After about thirty minutes in a store, I’m ready to go home, too.
Two year olds have surprisingly big voices in little bodies. This little girl started to tear up, and scream, “I want to go home! I want to go home!” Everyone in the store heard her. Everyone in within a ten-mile radius heard her. Everyone knew she wanted to go home.
Her mother tried all the standard techniques: “Shhh! Be quiet. We will go home in a few minutes;” “If you stop crying I will buy you some candy (that would work for me);” and, as the mom felt the stares, “Will you stop crying!”
None of the strategies worked. The little girl upped her decibels. Dogs began to howl outside the store. I think I saw a jar of pickles start to vibrate. More people were coming around the corner in search of this awful sound.
The young mom had reached her limit. She pulled out the nuclear option phrase: “If you don’t stop crying this instant, I will give you something to cry about.”
The two year old looked at her mother with non-comprehending eyes. You could read her thoughts on her furrowed forehead: “I already have something to cry about! That’s why I’m crying. What part of “I want to go home Momma” do you not understand?”
My heart went out to the little girl and to her overwhelmed Mom. How do you reason with a two year old whose emotions have torn her away from whatever reasoning ability she has?
Jesus once encountered people who were weeping because their friend Lazarus had died. Jesus, who could have healed him, didn’t come in time. Now Jesus was on the scene. He could feel the accusing eyes and read their message: “He was your friend. Where were you? You could have done something.” Jesus does not tell them “Don’t cry.” He does not tell them he will give them something to cry about. Instead, he joins their grief. In the shortest verse in the Bible, we told one of its great truths: “Jesus wept.”
Jesus understands the moments in your life when you are overwhelmed with emotion. Jesus, with infinite patience, stops to feel with you. He shares your tears. But he also will share your joys, your anger, your anxiety. To your joy he brings song; to your anger, perspective; to your anxiety, peace.
I give the young mom credit. Realizing what she said and how it sounded, she stopped her shopping, picked up the two year old up out of the buggy, and held her while she cried. She let her daughter cry out her frustration. Then she tickled her and made her laugh.
I think that is what Jesus does. He holds us when we are flooded with emotion. He cries when we cry. Then, when we least expect it, he brings something good, he brings joy. Jesus is the God of the morning when night turns to joy. Whatever your tears, he will hold you.