Just over twenty years ago, on September 6, 1997, a coffin was wheeled through the streets of London on the back of a gun carriage. Within the coffin were the mortal remains of Diana, Princess of Wales, who had died in a car crash seven days before. People flooded the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the carriage as it made its way to through London. It was estimated that more than one million people turned out to witness the procession, with more than one billion watching on television around the world. It was one of the largest crowds to appear in England since World War 2.
Yet the largest funeral crowd ever recorded was for a man little known outside his home country. Upon his death in 1969, C.N Annadurai was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. An actor, writer and proponent of Tamil culture—he fought against the imposition of Hindi as the official language of India—he was universally beloved in his home state. When he died while still in office, it is estimated that 15 million people came out onto the streets to view the body.
In Luke 7, the Bible records a time Jesus attended a funeral. Although the crowd size was considerably less, the grief was just as real. A young man had died and his mother, a widow, along with others from the village, were taking his body to be buried.
Their little village was called Nain, an out of the way place no one would ever go to unless they had business there. Yet scripture records Jesus was there. He wasn’t passing through. He had a divine appointment with this widow. He arrived right at her lowest moment on the worst day of her life.
When He saw her, His heart overflowed with compassion and He spoke to the widow. Rather than offering condolences or some sort of platitude, Jesus simply told her, “don’t cry.”
Such a strange thing to say at a funeral, some would even say inappropriate.
Put yourself in this widow’s shoes just for a moment. Your husband is dead. Your only son has just died. While you are at the funeral, on your way to bury him, a complete stranger and His entourage not only interrupt the funeral procession but then tells you to stop crying!
What do you mean ‘don’t cry’! Can’t you see what’s happening to me? Don’t you know what I am living through right now? Crying is the appropriate human response to this situation!
Jesus was asking her to do something that seemed totally out of place and that didn’t make any sense. He was telling her to stop crying before He had given her any reason to do so! That sounds like something you would say after you have performed the miracle and made everything ok.
But the boy was still dead and Jesus is telling her to stop crying.
It was like He was paying no attention at all to the circumstances around her. But by those two simple words, Jesus was reminding her that regardless of how bad things seem, God’s not done yet.
It’s a reminder to all of us. When trouble comes, we have a decision to make. Do we put our attention on our circumstances or do we focus on God? You could easily focus on what’s happened, what you’ve lost and how you feel and be totally justified in doing so, or you could do something totally radical and focus your attention on almighty God, the Creator of the universe, who has all power and all authority in every situation.
This is called praise.
It is where we declare, despite what we are facing, just how good our God is, even when we don’t see His goodness at work in our life. It is where we allow thanksgiving to come out of our mouth, on our lowest moments, when we feel like we have lost everything and we feel like giving up.
Praise isn’t just reserved to the fast songs at the start of a church service. It’s not just singing, dancing, shouting and clapping. Praise is where we use our words to declare how big our God is. It puts our circumstances in the right perspective.
Praise opens the door to hope and hope is the substance of faith.
It is a weapon God has given to you and to me that has the power to change atmospheres, to confuse the enemy and can bring dead dreams back to life.
It reminds us that despite how hopeless the situation seems, it’s not over until God says it’s over.
Jesus wasn’t trying to come across as uncaring towards this widow. In fact the Bible says His heart was full of compassion towards her. He wanted to remind her, no matter how hopeless things look, God is not done yet!
He is on your side. He will fight for you. He is not limited by our circumstances. You are not alone.
So don’t cry! God’s not done yet!