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John 11.17-37

Jesus does nothing. Upon receiving word his close friend Lazarus is critically ill and near death, Jesus and his disciples make no movement towards Bethany. After two days, they begin the day-long hike to what Jesus knows will be a household consumed by grief and frustration. He’s met by Lazarus’ two sisters—first Martha and then Mary. Their first words to Jesus, which almost certainly had been the topic of discussion for four days, were identical. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” To these identical statements, Jesus responds differently. To Martha he responds with truth. To Mary with tears.

As followers of Jesus, and especially as caregivers, we enter situations of intense pain, loss, grief and confusion. We’re often at a loss about what to do or what to say. Do we respond with truth or with tears? Or a combination of both?

As you enter these situations, keep these things in mind. First, show up. It’s better to show up and get it wrong than to not show up at all. Second, be guided by your relationship with those who hurt and by the Holy Spirit. Third, default to tears. If all you do in the moment is affirm that something’s broken, assure that God is good and commit to walking with them, you will have served them—and your Lord—well.