(What provoked this blog from within the depths of me, came during a morning of prayer and meditation while listening to the instrumental song above on repeat. It is a close friend of mine’s music and carries the emotional weight of the words in this post within the borders of its musical arrangement. I would love for you to listen to it while you read this post for a more dramatic experience.)
Weeping is not something that can be conjured up. It strikes a person as a bolt of lightning, unpredictable, from a course not of ourselves. Bound up in the endless depths of the human heart is restricted emotion from years of wounding, hurts, pains, and wrongs… and when the dam holding back those floodwaters bursts its torrent is an uncontrollable flood… a deluge of something divine. Tears trace paths down our cheeks like streams through a parched desert devoid of rain for seasons past. Truly, who can explain what it is that makes one cry? Who can declare from where it is conceived? Born in that stored-away place that is rarely seen by many, the fetus of emotion grows and grows until the event that causes its birth. With heaving and groaning the baby is born and the tears on one’s face are like the wet newborn baby that has just entered the world. Is it overly allegorical to observe why we have at times returned to that fetal position in times of weeping?
There is no time or pattern to the rhythm of weeping, and it knows no metronome. It follows no clap, or tapping foot, and albeit random, its heaves produce a song of its own. The wise listen and add to their learning, the discerning get guidance.
The eyes of those who empathize become moist as well, because the chord struck deep within the person upon whom the dam has just broken can oddly cause other dams to break. By relation of experience, and of proximity to the dam, others are suddenly swept away in its forceful waters. As though the one drowning in the beauty of release should not be left alone, another swims down to join them in a sea of their own tears. Behold the power of weeping and the strength of such weakness! Behold the beauty of the broken.
No one knows the bounds or depths of sobbing uncontrollably… the untethered chorus of a crowd in mourning is staggering to behold.
Some cheeks are more desperate to savor those moments than others and like droplets of rain dripping from the leaves of forests in a downpour their tears fall to the ground where the earth desperately drinks them up. Or, they fall into the very hands of God, where they are stored until the day He wipes every single one of them away and replaces them with the oil of joy.
Lest we become overly sentimental towards the idea of simple sentiment, let us progress to the biblical thrust of weeping and the object of our attention––weeping with God. The valuable lesson we learn from the Scriptures regarding the God of Israel is that He is the divine Creator who possesses weeping as an attribute. We should think that when the Alpha and Omega weeps it is due to the most profound of circumstances. His divine heart of unchanging love and sacred refuge bursts and the longsuffering tears of deep emotional pain regarding His creation are expended, an uncontrollable geyser that sinks the arrogance of man into the deep ocean of His humility. Indeed, in Noah’s flood the wicked could have been drowning in the very tears the Godhead was shedding from their heavenly temple. As the warm droplets touched the faces of those under His judgment as they peered wide-eyed towards the heavens, they would’ve recognized His everlasting mercy before they sank down immersed in the waters of His unwavering justice.
When I was small my father would leave the room as soon as he spanked me. I never understood why until I got older and mentioned it once to him. He explained that the pain he had to inflict upon my brother and I was too much for him to bear and he would leave the room only to immediately burst into tears of his own. It was never long before he would enter the room again with wet cheeks and cradle us in his arms, sorry that his love had to manifest as judgment. I distinctly remember my young boy cheeks rubbing against his and pondering their wetness as I sat loved in his lap. In that experience I have beheld one of the most accurate pictures of our heavenly Father and I still marvel today at the revelation it holds. (My prayer for you dad is that as you read this you would be able to finally let your own dam burst and be drowned there in the waters of your heavenly Father’s love.)
To take the liberty of this example and look upon the Scriptures we look in Revelation chapter 15. You don’t have to agree with my theological perspective on this chapter to glean from what I am about to present. The example is simple. In Revelation 15:1;7-8 judgment is taking place and something called the bowls of wrath are about to be poured out. The text reads:
“Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished… Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”
At the pinnacle of wrath and the precipice of His judgment being unleashed full-force we see God desiring to be alone. I wonder if this is similar to my earthly father’s discipline, in that, He is “leaving the room” to weep His own tears that His great love must now be manifested in judgment. Thus, He makes everyone leave His room as He deeply grieves and travails over the fierceness of His wrath being manifested towards those who hate Him. But, those who love Him will very shortly thereafter be taken into His arms and received forever!
Uniquely, we find in the God-breathed Scriptures a blessing for those who mourn in this life bound to the promise that they will be comforted. We find Paul excavating the principle of mourning, enjoining us to fellowship with those who are currently engulfed in their own tears (Rom. 12:15). Do we find there true relationship? And what if mourning with those who mourn has implicit suggestion concerning those with understanding who will mourn with God––since He is in fact the one weeping!?
The mysterious abyss from which tears arise has hardly been considered in relation to God in the flesh. That is to say, Jesus wept, but because of our own lack of weeping our interpretation of what is happening within Him is most likely misunderstood. I doubt that any one of us has ever sobbed until sweat like great drops of blood pushed from underneath our skin and fell from the pores of our epidermis. Again, our lack of weeping might normally write this off as an odd event––just as something that possesses its own mystique, unable to be described by the faculties of men. But, is that true? Or have we just not wept enough?
Is it possible that Jesus, as the second person of the Godhead had waited since the beginning of time to release those tears from distinct human eyes on the night before His crucifixion? And there, as He heaves and wipes the tears from his face they mix with the atoning blood that is seeping from his skin. His mourning over the sin that has brought about His fateful crucifixion merges with the deep pain of bearing the sin of the world. How often have we seen tears and blood mix? His bound-up effort of longsuffering with humans and His pent-up rage against the sin and wickedness of His creation inverts and is there becoming the cup of wrath and long-suffering which the Father is dumping out upon His Son as Calvary is only a sunrise away.
How is it that the God of Israel has chosen such vulnerability to be one of the most personal manifestations of His nature? We deduce this through simplicity in the equation: When one weeps they are vulnerable, they are weak, they are exposed. No one has ever looked at a person weeping and said “What great strength!” Yet, we have the God of the Bible continually make this odd disposition true in verses like,
“…we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,29so that no man may boast before God (1 Cor. 1:23-29),
and also God’s response to Paul,
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness,” (2 Cor. 12:9).
In these passages we find a direct definition from God concerning strength that is contingent upon manifest weakness. This is entirely opposed to the wisdom of the world! In fact, it is so entirely different than the way the world sees things it is actually confounding their wisdom to behold the beautiful weakness of Christ crucified
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,” (1 Cor. 1:20-21).
There on the Cross, the story of great weakness prevails triumphantly over the strength of man. Now, to us being saved we behold the power of God! But to those who are perishing––weakness. But, it is not as though one party sees something different than the other, rather it is how the party interprets what they are seeing. For the Christian, he looks upon the weakness of God being flogged, pressed with a crown of thorns, nails thrust through His flesh, and hanging in the air seemingly helpless and he says, “What great strength!” The others behold the same elements and wag their heads saying, “Physician, heal yourself!” To one it is wisdom, and to the other foolishness. And in this great mystery the Messiah of humankind is being perfected through the weakness and vulnerability of suffering,
“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered,” (Heb. 5:8).
I wish to join in on the grief our Lord shared with the Father that night in the garden of Gethsemane. I want to touch that emotion and have it be real. I want to feel what God feels at this hour of history and let it manifest in warm streams on my face, where the spring’s head is centered in the overflow of God’s heart connecting to my heart, and I want it to run its torrential course out through the tear ducts of my eyes and fall to the earth or into the very Hands of God Himself.
I want that weakness… that vulnerability. I want to weep. I want to cry. May we be led by the Spirit into those uncontrollable times and cultivate a heart that is open to the infinite bounds of weeping with God. It’s ok to cry! Feel the freedom of weeping! Let it all out and see the fruit it might bear in your life with God.