God understands what it means to feel alone. Mark writes this about Jesus, “Then everyone deserted him and fled” (Mark 14:48–50).
It’s kind of hard to believe this verse. At first, I read it and wondered, Is Mark talking about Jesus?
The one who died for us—that Jesus?
But yes, it was Jesus who was grieving. He knew that he was about to go to the Cross.
And yet everyone deserted him.
Jesus experienced one of the deepest grief moments of his human life, and those closest to him deserted him. They abandoned him, left him, let him down, and didn’t come through.
Abandonment and desertion can crush the spirit and be traumatic experiences themselves. But this happened to Jesus; everyone deserted him.
My mom used to say, “If it happened to Jesus, we are no better than him. So it could happen to us.”
True, but thanks be to God, Jesus has already walked in all our shoes to truly understand what we feel, sense, and struggle through.
And the best part is that he knows how to help us, heal us, comfort us, and give us peace.
Further, in understanding how God understands our grief, the prophet Isaiah prophesied this of Jesus, “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).
God, in the bodily form of Jesus, bore our sorrow, our grief, and our pain on the Cross. Not that we wouldn’t experience them, but instead he would know how to comfort us. Knowing someone knows what you are going through provides a sense of comfort all by itself.
It comforts us when we meet someone with a similar shared experience. It excites us even. I become super excited when I find out someone is creative or loves art because I am a low-key art fan. I have been since I was single digits.
And it is the same with our grief. Think about it, how relieved would you become if you met someone who had experienced—even remotely—what you have or even slightly understood your grief? Wouldn’t it make you feel less alone?
I know it would make me feel better. Well, guess what? God knows fully what you are experiencing or have experienced in the past, and he understands.
In his humanity, Jesus even wept.
Lazarus, a dear friend of Jesus’s, was sick. Jesus heard this news, and instead of going to see him, he remained where he was for a few more days. And Lazarus died.
Before leaving for Bethany, Jesus was already aware of the fact that Lazarus had died. He told his disciples that Lazarus was instead sleeping, but he would go to wake him. When Jesus arrived, Martha confronted him, saying that if he had been there, her brother would not have died.
As described by John, Jesus was “deeply troubled” (John 11:33). Then the story goes on to say, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
Jesus seems to embody the words of Paul, who wrote, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Jesus saw their grief, and he had compassion for them. He grieved with them.
In fact, when Jesus heard about the death of John the Baptist, he also grieved. John was Jesus’s cousin. We first hear of this relationship when Jesus’s mother, Mary, went to see her cousin Elizabeth. They were both pregnant. There was already a kindred connection between Jesus and John while they were still in their mothers’ wombs.
Then this same John later prepares the way for Jesus. In the end, John becomes a martyr in the name of Jesus.
So, when Jesus hears about the death of John the Baptist, Matthew wrote, he “left in a boat to a remote area to be alone” (Matthew 14:13).
Jesus took time to grieve and honor John the Baptist.
I think as believers, we often forget this. Maybe we think about how strong and powerful God is; we think about how nothing moves God or hurts God.
I believe we forget how God became flesh and felt every single thing that happened to him. When people hear of your loss and immediately say, “I can’t imagine.” know that Jesus can imagine and knows your pain.
In the same way that people would become much more thoughtful and compassionate by trying to put themselves where you are, if we were to put ourselves in Jesus’ shoes (I know, big shoes to fill), we would have such a better perspective.
A better view. A lens of what it may have felt like while Jesus was praying in the garden. We would have a better understanding of the loving way Jesus understands us. Just as Jesus grieved, he understands that all people grieve, and he understands your grief. As he felt alone, he understands how you feel alone. He knew and he knows.
He knew one day you and I would grieve, and so God made a way for us to come to him for comfort and to obtain peace, simply through the name of Jesus.
So, no matter where you find yourself right now in your grief journey, God is asking, “Can you just sit with me?”
For further reflection, listen to Mark 14.
- Mark 14
*Adapted from Can You Just Sit with Me? by Natasha Smith. ©2023 by Natasha Smith. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press. www.ivpress.com.