It’s often said that it’s unhealthy to “bottle up” our emotions. By this, most mean that we should not restrain or hold back our emotions, especially our tears. We should have an outlet to express our sorrows and pains. Of course, there are unhealthy outlets we might use to deal with our emotions–food, drink, lashing out, closing ourselves off from others. But there are also some very healthy and helpful ways in which we might let out our emotion–journaling, prayer, engaging with those whom we have some conflict, talking with family or friends or a counselor. And of course, some cry, and that’s okay. Nancy Guthrie has said, “Tears are a gift that God gives us to help wash away the deep pain that we feel and experience from living life in the brokenness of this world.”

I’ve had to give myself permission to cry. As a recovering tomboy, I’ve always viewed crying as a sign of weakness, of being a wimpy woman. I’ve conditioned myself to believe that if I can stop the tears, I can stop the pain. I’ve told myself that crying never solves anything and I just need to toughen up so I can move on. None of this is true. There’s nothing wrong with crying. Our tears are an acknowledgement of our weakness and utter dependence on the Lord to handle our pains and sorrows. Over and over in God’s Word, He beckons us to cry out to Him. He promises to hear. He promises to answer. He promises relief and peace and joy in the midst of our most difficult circumstances. He says, “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you (2 Kings 20:5)”.

There is a place for our tears that can guard us from despair and solidify our commitment to live at peace among our Christian family. Scripture tells us that our tears are not wasted. In fact, God keeps every one of them. He remembers their occasion (Psalm 56:8). He hears the prayers behind our tears. He knows the hurt that give occasion to our tears. He sees them and He stores them up. As our tears pour out, His peace pours into our hearts. Our tears are a kind of sowing, in which the seeds of sorrow for sin, empathy for the plight of others, enduring suffering or trouble, take root and at season’s end, produce a harvest of joy (Psalm 126:5).

Since Genesis 3, we have been in one very long season of tears. Our world is broken because of sin, so there is much to cry out to God for. But our tears are temporary. They are of this world. This season will one day be over. The Lord will wipe away tears from all faces (Is 25:8). There will be no more mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore (Rev 21:4). Weeping may endure for the night, but joy will come in the morning (Psalm 30:5). May this hope bind our hearts together in love as we wait for this season of tears to end, and to enter into an everlasting season of joy.

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The Front Porch

Conversations about biblical
faithfulness in African-American
churches and beyond