A TIME TO WEEP

Weeping has its appropriate time. Paul gives us one occasion: “Weep with those who weep.” Our culture is not as good at weeping as some others. Perhaps these truths can help.

God gave you tear-ducts.
He has given you the equipment. It can happen, even for big boys. Enlist the eyes more than the tongue. When Job’s three friends heard of his troubled, they traveled to him. “When they saw him…they could hardly recognize him…Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days…No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:12,13). It got messy when they opened their mouths. Presence beats preaching!

Acts of kindness trump words. Hugs and hamburgers work well. And you do not need to represent God and correct the sloppy theology of the grieving. That will right itself in time.

One sign of love is the ability to weep with people. When my wife lost our son one week before his scheduled birth, Karen said on the phone to her brother, “Thanks for crying with me.” Paul told the Corinthian church, “If one part suffers, all suffers with it” (I Cor. 12:26).

God suffers with us.
The story of Hosea is a picture of God the grieving Lover, whose heart is wrenched by His prostituting wife. He knows what grief is about. The psalmist writes, “Put my tears in your bottle” (Ps 56:18). God saves the evidence of a broken heart.

The book of Judges tells stories of Israel’s roller coaster ride with rebellion and revival. At one point we read, “And God could bear Israel’s misery no longer” (Judges 10:16). God knows our pain and enters our sorrow. Isaiah wrote, “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (63:9).

The psalmist said, “He is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). We sometimes feel that God is distant in our pain. This scripture tells us that He is closer than ever. God holds a bias for the broken.

Jesus wept.
He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” What a description for the triumphant Son of God. He said, “Blessed are those who mourn…” Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, knowing He was going to raise him. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He said in the garden, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. Watch here with me.” He asked for help in His grieving.

The Spirit Grieves
God the Father has emotions of joy and sorrow, anger and peace. Then the Spirit within us does as well. He doesn’t leave us when we violate His will, but He grieves. That is why we are commanded to offload destructive sin with the exhortation, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit…” (Eph. 4:30).

The People of God wept
After Moses died, “The Israelites grieved for…thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over” (Deut. 34:8). When Stephen was martyred, “Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him” (Acts 8:2). They did not just say, “Oh, we’ll see him in heaven.”

One day weeping will end. Tears will be wiped away. In the meantime, we cry. Don’t save up your tears, because you can’t use them in the new earth. If you need help, the Holy Spirit who knows how to grieve can help you.

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