When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, while Mary stayed at home. John 11:17-20
When we hear that someone has lost a loved one we go to console. Console means to comfort someone in times of grief. How do you do that? Many words have been spoken to one who is grieving that are not helpful during time of sorrowing like, “Good thing you have another child/children so this loss will not be so bad.” Or, “Your parent was old and so had a long life; your sadness will pass quickly with the knowledge that they had a long life.” Or, “Your spouse that died would have wanted you to move on with life and get back into your regular schedule again.” While each of these are true, the statements have low level empathy.
Christian empathy meets the person where they are at spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Empathy accepts and is present where the grieving person sorrows. Grief is like a fingerprint; each person handles grief on their own time line and our patience is required in comforting them. Mary and Martha are two examples. Martha had to get moving, go to meet Jesus, and use Him as spiritual strength. Mary wanted to stay at home, immobile with grief, sorrowing with friend’s support.
Yet, look at what happens when Martha gets moving to Jesus, seeking comfort from the One who is the source of all comfort. With Him she gathers His intent to give eternal life and receives the words of Resurrection.