When I was in high school and even in early psychology classes in college, they taught us that the brain stem is responsible for two gut responses when we are confronted with danger: flight or fight.
Then, during graduate school, the truth came out –
We learn new things all the time, even in science, and we missed one: freeze.
There is the classic example given in psychology classes across the nation of what happens when you meet a bear in the woods. Why? I don’t know. How often do you meet bears in the woods? I can honestly say I never have. Perhaps it’s time for a new example. Let’s try this one:
You are walking into work or church, maybe even your home. It’s somewhere you go frequently. The people there are familiar with you, should know your character a little bit. You look up. You see a co-worker, a friend, someone familiar to you. You smile. You think in your head, “Oh, it’s such-and-such. It’s good to see them.” This is slightly involuntary. You generally think these things when you see this person, but don’t even realize it’s part of your thought processes. Then, said person opens their mouth. You open your heart and your brain for engaging conversation. Said person proceeds to lay into you about the way you handle a situation. They are not happy. They are getting worked up. You had no idea. Now there are people looking. You’d kind of like to dig a hole and crawl into it. You have three options:
You get hot and bothered and lose it. Words fly. We call this fight.
You start thinking about hippopotami because they are cute and this person is not. We call this flight.
Or your mind goes blank. You think nothing and enter the vortex we call freeze. Just done. Frozen.
There are many experiences in life that make us frozen, in varying degrees.
Resurrection heals even this.
Let’s look at Luke 7:11-17. This is the story of a woman whose only son was dead, the funeral procession already in play, the tears already falling.
11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
Notice that no one in the story was frozen. What I want you to see is actually the absence of frozen.
Read Luke 7:13 again:
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
The Greek word for had compassion in this verse is esplanchnisthē. A more direct translation would be that Jesus was moved with compassion.
Jesus, Son of God, in His perfection, isn’t relegated to our classic psychological responses. He brings resurrection healing to this woman, her son, and restoration to their lives.
When He sees death, He isn’t frightened.
When He sees tears, He never freezes.
When He sees struggle, He fights a different kind of fight, against forces we cannot see. Wielding weapons of serious power, so we don’t have to.
Jesus is moved. Moved to do something, even when you can’t see it. Working in your life, moved by compassion, the great love He has for you.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved… (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Our funeral biers of life may look different than this woman’s, than the crowd of witnesses’, than the person’s sitting next to us. The things that get us worked up, leave us speechless, or lock our hearts up tight, afraid to let someone hurt us, are all varied.
But know this today:
Jesus is moved.
He can work His restoration and healing in every situation bringing life where there once was death, joy where there once was sadness, and compassion where there once was cold and frozen.
Finish today by reading or writing out Psalm 126 and rejoicing alongside this widow. He does great things. He is moved.