Lent: What happens when our last hope dies?

Who or what have I lost?

  Photograph by Caroline Tyler

Photograph by Caroline Tyler

Who or what have I lost?

Luke 7:11-17

A Widow's Son

I live in a country where death and illness are part of everyday life. Most weeks include the news of the serious illness or death of someone I know or one of their relatives. Attending funerals, visiting the sick or those bereaved make up much of Chadian social life.

I know a surprising number of widows of different ages, but thanks to the extended family, they are not all destitute. More often than not, there's a father, a brother, best of all an adult son, to offer some measure of social and material security. A young son, even if he cannot yet provide for his mother, offers immense hope for the future. Women with no sons are the most vulnerable of all in this society.

Parallels

I see many parallels with the story today.  Jesus and his followers see and hear the crowd of mourners as they approach Nain. The death is very recent, emotions are at their rawest and loudest. The townsfolk are burying a young man. A distraught woman walks beside the coffin, supported by the crowd.

Who has she lost? Who is she crying over?

'The only son of his mother, a widow.' v12

A woman saying goodbye to her last hope.

'When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” v13

Jesus is deeply moved by the women's distress. He stands beside her at the coffin and offers comfort. He goes beyond simple words, however, and is moved to extraordinary action on her behalf. He reaches out, touches the coffin and instructs the young man to get up!

'Jesus gave him back to his mother.' v15

Hope is resurrected. Mourning turns to praise. A new beginning is offered.

“God has come to help his people.”

Questions

Who or what have I lost?  Who or what is in the open coffin in front of me?
Can I sense Jesus standing with me at the coffin? What does he say to me?
How does he offer me new hope?

A final thought

As followers of Jesus we are called to stand with others in their distress and offer hope in His name.
How am I following Jesus in this way?

Caroline Tyler