Home to His Town
When we least expect it, He brings hope
By Heather VandenHoven
The story doesn’t say she sought Jesus out, or even that Jesus sought her out. Luke simply says in the story about the widow of Nain that “when the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’ ” It then goes on to tell us just how Jesus changed this woman’s life forever. “Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother” (Luke 7:13-15).*
No More Hope
Jesus was in town on a day that held sorrow for an already widowed woman. Her husband had died sometime earlier, and now she mourned the death of her son. Her loss did not only mean emotional upheaval, but would transform her life forever. Without a son to provide and protect her, she was defenseless. Without the emotional support of her son, she was destined to years of loneliness. Most likely she would live out her remaining days homeless, alone, and hungry. The people of her town, walking with her in the funeral procession during her time of grief, would be long gone when life would return to the routine of survival. She was helpless, and her tragedy was just beginning. She would have to deal on her own with the assault life had thrown at her.
But on that day Jesus walked through her town and into her life. He brought healing and compassion, ready to drive out her feelings of despair and give her refuge. What she didn’t realize was that Jesus had been making it His business to help people just like her, and that this afternoon it was her turn to receive mercy.
"Through one woman's story, Jesus gave...an example of the depth of His compassion and His willingnes to put people back together."
“Jesus’ heart went out to her.” The story could stop right there and still capture an amazing wealth of truth for us. Just those words alone show us that in His ministry, Jesus did more than just heal; He actually felt our pain—He felt compassionate toward our dilemma. How encouraging to know that His heart goes out to us and that He feels compassion for us. Our Savior cares! He’s not just walking by our town; He’s stopping by to be the Savior in our lives.
But this story of compassion doesn’t stop at “Jesus’ heart went out to her.” It goes on to demonstrate God’s amazing grace that only Jesus Christ Himself can give—and He extended this gift to His daughter in Nain. As Jesus saw the crying woman, He went to her and said, “Don’t cry,” because He realized her great need for hope. Jesus approached the coffin that held the grieving woman’s son, no doubt causing confusion among those gathered. But then He did something wonderful—He touched the coffin and said “Get up!” to the dead.
In that instant this bereaved woman witnessed a miracle—her son was returned to her. Jesus did all the action in this story, and she received all the grace. He recognized the desperation of her situation; He saw her needs; He took care of it—Jesus the Savior! It was as if He was saying to this poor broken daughter, “Daddy’s here, honey; everything is going to be OK. I saw what happened to you, and it hurt Me, too. I’ve put your son back together especially for you. I love you.”
That afternoon Jesus gave hope to a mother through the resurrection of her son. Perhaps even a hope beyond how she would live life on earth, but also a hope in a Savior that would rescue her again, but this time for eternity. Through one woman’s story Jesus gave millions more a demonstration of His heart. He gave an example of the depth of His compassion and His willingness to put people back together.
Jesus in Your Town
Have you ever wished Jesus would stop by your town, that He would walk into your life? Have you hoped that He would see your needs and understand what you are dealing with? Maybe you just want to feel loved, noticed, or taken care of, but instead your life is constantly being flooded with complications and heartache. Perhaps you’ve lost loved ones, money, or your job. Maybe you’ve prayed some mornings, you’ve managed to get through life that day, but you know you’ll have to go through it all over again tomorrow and the next day. You’ve been wondering when it will be your chance to receive the mercy Jesus has promised to all His children.
Our Savior makes a simple yet powerful promise in His word that we are never alone, even in our greatest moments of weakness. “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10). Or listen to this: “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isa. 49:16). Matthew 10:31 tells us, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows,” and Psalms says that “the Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Ps. 145:9).
Just as Jesus’ heart went out to the widow of Nain, that same compassion and care is extended to us today. Through His written Word He has assured that we know about the day He walked through this widow’s town. We are told about His compassionate actions in her life so that we can take courage. We can be encouraged that He too is in our town and is acting with kindness in our lives. One day the procession will stop and He will say “Get up!” to the millions that have rested in Him. We will then go home to His place! I cannot wait—come, Lord Jesus!
* Scripture quotations in this article are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Heather VandenHoven writes from Angwin, California, U.S.A., where she and her husband live with their 12-year-old daughter.