A few weeks ago, as I waited at a stop-light, I watched a young mother walked in front of my car, holding her small child by the hand. The child looked to be about three or so. The mother was definitely in a hurry to cross the street; the child was not. The child’s feet were hitting the ground about every third step as she tried to keep up with her mother’s gait. I thought, I wonder what it’s like to be led by the hand, not knowing where you’re going, how long it will take to get there, or why there is such a hurry? Mother was on a mission. I don’t think she was even aware she was dragging her little girl along behind her.
A few days ago, a man came into my office. He shared that he was tired and felt like he was on an escalator that never stopped. He said he was fragmented and lacked focus and couldn’t seem to get his bearings. He used words like race to describe his daily routines. He talked of schedules and calendars and free nights.
It was apparent to me that he was holding onto things that were dragging him across the streets of his life. His feet were only landing on the ground every third or fourth day. Weary. Harried. Tired of being tired. He said his life was out of control. He wasn’t sure what was doing the dragging, but some one or some thing was causing a profound weariness to overtake him. He talked like a victim — like a child whose arms were weary from being dragged to the other side of the street.
A few minutes ago, during my devotional reading, I read her story again. She was definitely being dragged down the street. Death had already taken her husband some years before, and now this widow of Nain walked behind the body of her son — her only son — as his dead body was carried through the streets.
My guess is, she was numb. I’ve never lost a child to death, but I have stood with many parents who have, and virtually all of them mention the numbness that accompanies tragedy. The widow followed the coffin, sobbing, grieving the loss of her child. She had no idea what she would do now. When her husband died, she probably took hope in the fact that her son would be able to care for her in her old age, but now, death had taken him, too. She walked behind his coffin. She followed, as death dragged her through the streets, leading a procession of grieving, sorrow-filled lives. The old woman was a victim.
But Death made a mistake. As he stood atop the coffin of the young lad while the procession made its way through the streets, Death made a wrong turn. He didn’t understand. He didn’t realize that God lived in that neighborhood.
When Jesus saw that Death was dragging the life of a tired, old woman through the streets, He decided that enough was enough. The Bible says that His heart went out to her, and He said, “Don’t cry.” He stopped the parade. He touched the coffin. He spoke to a corpse, and He gave the old woman back her son.
Three people being dragged through life. A little girl, no more than three, being rushed across the street. A grown man, being dragged down life’s thoroughfares by his own lack of control and planning. And one of them, an old widow, the victim of Death, until God’s Son introduced Himself to her son.