Sunday 3/22/2015 6:35 AM
My whole life I have cried easily. As a child I remember crying when relatives would leave after visiting for a few days. I also remember crying when seeing a dead animal on the road between our farm and town. My mother always said I was a sensitive child. As an adult I can also become very emotional, so much so that I can’t speak without my voice quivering or tears appearing. This has been a source of great frustration with me. I long to be able to discuss issues and have conversations without the emotions welling up within.
There have been a few times in my life when tears overwhelmed me, my body wracked with spasms because of the depth of my emotion. Once was when I was looking over the Colorado River valley. As I looked over the valley I suddenly became aware of the depth of my sin and I turned my face away and wept over my sin. Another time I was traveling alone in my car. I asked God to accompany me and, after driving for four hours singing songs of praise to God, I became aware of his presence with me in the car and I wept for joy, having to pull to the side of the road because I couldn’t see through the tears. A third time was when I looked over the city of Tucson and its surroundings. After shouting, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the people and all who live in it,” at the top of my lungs, while overlooking the city from the top of a hill, I wept uncontrollably as I realized what a mess mankind has made of this wonderful world with which God has gifted us. Another time was after the death of Tyler Verkaik, a two-year old boy, who died after undergoing a bone marrow transplant that was necessary due to an extremely rare disease he suffered, along with his older brother, Ryan. The tragedy of a young life cut short seemed to be unjust. The morning after Emily’s college graduation the goodness of God to me throughout the years overwhelmed me and I wept tears of joy because of God’s constant care for me and for my family over my lifetime. The most recent case of uncontrollable weeping occurred a week ago Friday. After meeting with one of the members of my small group I began praying for those who do not yet know God, specifically for the members of ISIS and other radical Muslims. I am troubled by the reactions of many Christians who want to destroy them by any means necessary and I realized that the only way things are going to change in our world that is filled with violence is if hearts are turned to God and towards forgiveness and reconciliation rather than on vengeance and hatred, which seem only to exacerbate the problem. The seeming hopelessness of that ever occurring overwhelmed me and I wept as I prayed until I could no longer utter any words.
This past week the theme of my devotions has been the gift of tears. I must admit that I have never considered my tears a gift. I see them more as a curse. A few of the readings in my materials have given me a somewhat different perspective on things. In her book, Tears of a Greening Heart, Wendy M. Wright writes, “…the Eastern church writers most often say tears as the outward manifestation of the spiritual experience of penthos, a term we might translate as ‘compunction.’ Compunction literally means ‘to puncture with’ and refers to the spiritual pain due not only to a shocked recognition of sin and human weakness, but the simultaneous awakening dissatisfaction with sin and longing for God. To have our hearts thus ‘punctured’ is both the beginning and the dynamic of the journey. … Spiritual tears in themselves were variously categorized and described. They could have purifying power. They might function differently for those just beginning on the spiritual journey and for those far along. They could be provoked by memory of sin as well as consideration of the goodness of God, the desire for heaven, the fear of hell, or the thought of judgment. Overwhelmingly, tears were understood as a gracious God-given gift, a wonderful physical sign that the inner world of a person was being transformed.” In his introduction to the book, Weavings, John S. Mogabgab writes, “Tears of grief and tears of joy often mingle together in a single moment of enhanced vision, endowing us with new eyes that discern traces of the God who suffers with us silently in the pure vulnerability and power of divine love. There is comfort in such tears. They bring fresh understanding that God is nearby, sharing to the full our humanity in all its bitterness and blessedness.”
Perhaps I need to change my view of tears, seeing them as a gift from God rather than as a curse with which I was born. Jesus told his disciples that he wanted them to experience life to the full. Since life is filled with both joy and sorrow my tears might just be the way that God allows me to experience the fullness of life. The main thing I need to remember is that God weeps with me, in both the joy and the sorrows of life.