Pretty much since Nahum was born, we’ve been in a sort of rivalry. We used to try to outdo each other in endurance tests, running, strength and just about anything else we could come up with. We would fight for the most food (especially dessert!), we’d fight to be leader, we’d fight for just about anything and everything. One of the things that we fought most over was strength, both physical and emotional. Who was stronger? Who could endure more pain without uttering a word or crying? Of course, since I was a girl, I was at an automatic disadvantage, because it’s a known fact that girls are more emotional and much weaker than boys. I hated that argument.
So I developed a tough skin to prove that girls were not weak. Physical pain never made me cry. I didn’t care if I got a million scrapes and cuts. It didn’t ever reach the part of me that brought me to tears.
For most of my life, I’ve believed that I should be ashamed of crying and that it was something only weak people did. From age eleven to current times, I’ve only cried when other people were around a grand total of four times, and three of those were complete accidents.
Jesus wept. That’s one of the shortest verses in the bible, and one that most of us know. But what’s the context? Why was he crying?
Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb.
Even though Jesus knew that he would raise Lazarus and that he would live again, Jesus still cried. Jesus wept in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion. Another, lesser known example of Jesus crying is found in Luke when he cries over Jerusalem.
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
We serve an emotional God. Numerous times through scripture, the bible talks about God rejoicing over his people (Isaiah 62:5), exulting over them with shouts of joy and singing (Zephaniah 3:17), mourning over their unbelief and rejection (Isaiah 63:10). He feels hatred of evil (Isaiah 26:21, Nahum 1:2-6, Psalm 7:11), love (John 14:21, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:1), jealousy for his people (2 Corinthians 11:2, Deuteronomy 6:15), and compassion (Psalm 86:15, Lamentations 3:22-23, Isaiah 30:18).
We have been created in the image of God and given the gift of emotion. We all love being happy, but what about the other less desirable emotions – fear, sadness, anger? Do they have a purpose?
The simple answer is yes, they do.
Despite popular belief, tears do not mean that you are weak. Crying does not make you helpless. In most cases, being honest enough to show your tears and being vulnerable is a sign of deeper strength. When something happens to you or someone you love, it is okay to cry. It’s not weakness. Sorrow can draw people together in a way that most other things can’t. Being honest, vulnerable and open is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to someone you trust.
Crying can be messy. It can be ugly. It can hurt. But it isn’t something to hide or bury away. Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
There is a time for tears and a season for weeping. That’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. You don’t have to hide it or lock it away. It’s okay.