When I was a kid, our church had a scripture memory program for children. Each week we’d memorize our verses and earn prizes. If we finished our books by the end of the school year, we got awards. It was challenging, and fun.
Naturally, we hoped for the shorter verses. I remember at some point my friends pointing out that the shortest verse in the Bible only has two words: “Jesus wept.” We wondered if we’d ever be assigned that verse. Piece of cake.
Jesus wept when he was at the tomb of his friend, Lazarus. It’s one of the most dramatic stories of the Bible. You can read it here.
Perhaps my favorite of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles isThe Magician’s Nephew.
The main character is a boy named Digory. We learn in the opening pages that Digory’s mother has been sick and she doesn’t seem to be getting any better. He’s worried she may die.
Digory’s Uncle–the sinister Uncle Andrew–dabbles in magic. Uncle Andrew tricks Digory and his friend Polly into using some magic rings that eventually take them to Narnia–just as Aslan (The Great Lion, the Christ figure in the Narnia Chronicles) is creating it. He creates the world by singing it into existence. It’s beautiful.
Digory is hopeful that Aslan might be able to give him something from this magical place that will cure his mother. But when Digory musters up his courage to ask him, Aslan responds with compassion–but points out that there is immediate work to do to protect Narnia from an evil witch, and would Digory accept the mission? (It was Digory’s fault the witch was there–and Aslan is not only protecting Narnia, but giving Digory a chance to redeem his folly.) He would have to wait to find out if Aslan would do something for his mother.
Aslan has tears in his eyes. And from these tears Digory draws hope, courage, and consolation. May the tears of Christ do the same for us.
Digory kept his mouth very tight shut. He had been growing more and more uncomfortable. He hoped that whatever happened, he wouldn’t blub or do anything ridiculous.
“Son of Adam,” said Aslan. “Are you ready to undo the wrong you have done to my sweet country of Narnia on the very day of its birth?”
“Well, I don’t see what I can do,” said Digory. “You see, the Queen ran away and–”
“I asked, are you ready,” said the Lion.
“Yes,” said Digory. He had for a second some wild idea of saying “I’ll try to help you if you’ll promise to help about my Mother,” but he realised in time that the Lion was not at all the sort of person one could try to make bargains with. But when he had said “Yes,” he thought of his Mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes, and he blurted out:
“But please, please–won’t you–can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s front feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.
“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.C.S. Lewis, THe Magician’s Nephew, 141-142.