"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:...a time to weep...a time to mourn..." ~Ecclesiastes 3:1,4
Greetings to all. As many of you will already know by the time you read this, my uncle passed away this last weekend. He was a great man. Due to living a great distance apart from each other, I was not privileged to have know him as well as I would have liked. So, in mourning his death, I also mourn that fact. But I rejoice, because of the good times I did get to spend with him and because I know that he is now without pain and in a much better place.
This morning, I knelt to pray with all kinds of thoughts swirling in my head. I had my list of things to pray for. High on my list were my family members, among many other people, places, and concerns. However, I felt to begin by saying, "God, I want to hear from you." Immediately I felt God speak to me, "Cry." I went into agenda mode, "God I don't have time to cry, I got a lot of things to talk to you about today!...there's this, and that, and...." Again, he interrupted my protest, "Cry".
You know when a three year old falls down, isn't really hurt that bad, but has that moment where you see them working up that cry face, and then, with effort, the tears come? Well, that was me today...until it became real. I am guessing this command to me by God was due to an accumulation of withholding tears of sadness throughout a very rough year in general.
You have to understand, when it comes to spiritual things, tears pour from me. When it comes to being extremely frustrated or even physically exhausted, sometimes, whether I like it or not, tears just come. But, when it comes to plain ol' sadness over circumstances or loss, at some point in life I apparently got in the habit of sometimes just allowing myself to go numb, put a tough face on, and never fully grieve. This is not the first time God has had to literally instruct me to cry. Actually, it's happened a few times.
The fact that he has had to instruct me to do this more than once, had me guessing there was probably scripture on it, and, indeed, there is. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a "time for mourning" and a "time for weeping". Psalm 126:5 encourages us that, "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy".
The psalmist David spoke to God, "Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?" (Psalm 56:8). Another way this could read is, "You are well aware and have taken into account my state of exile: put my tears into thy bottle: have you not taken record of them?" There was something very important that David, a man after God's own heart, realized. He realized that God sees every tear and that tears are necessary.
So, you might be wondering why I am sharing this with you. I am sharing it because I believe there are many others out there, and perhaps you are one of them, who need to be told, "It's ok to cry. It's ok to weep. It's ok to mourn." It's not just ok; it's necessary. It's how God made us to function. It's how God starts the healing process.
Whether you have suffered the loss of a loved one, whether you have suffered a physical loss, whether you have suffered a financial loss, whether you have suffered an emotional loss...whatever kind of loss you have suffered: There IS a time to weep. There IS a time to mourn. If you haven't experienced that time yet, whether the loss was recent or decades ago, if you have not yet truly mourned your loss(es), that time is now. Attempting to skip the mourning stage of grief does not shorten the process of healing, but rather extends it, sometimes making it indefinite. As Psalm 126:5 shows: it is tears that beget joy.
Many of you, especially men, particularly those in leadership of any kind, be it the head of a household, pastor of a church, etc might feel a need to keep your "game face" on at all times. This may be because you are afraid once the tears start you won't be able to stop, or it may be because you are afraid everyone else will fall apart and think you are having a break down if they see you shed a single tear. First of all, I assure you, neither of these things will happen. If anything, it will simply remind them that you are truly human. I encourage you: if you are feeling a weight from grief of anything, go into your prayer closet, shut that door, and put on your greatest "not really hurt 3 year old" expression, until the real tears come...until the real healing and joy begins to take root inside your heart.
Real men cry. Real women shed tears. And a very real God sees those tears, remembers and records them, and brings comfort. You don't have to understand everything to feel peace. As a matter of fact, scripture describes God's peace as being a "peace that passes all understanding." (Phil. 4:7) Whether you understand your losses or whether you don't, know that there is a God who desires to hold, comfort, and strengthen you, not despite your tears, but because of them.
"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." ~Psalm 30:5