There is a pandemic raging across Western society and no its not Covid-19. Western society has created a subconscious culture that believes it is wrong to show the depth of our emotion. Now this isn't always the case. We see tons of screaming men in the stands at an OU football game, but when it comes to grief, we tend to bottle it up inside. In Christianity, we feel like letting our tears flow might be a sign that we don't truly trust God.
We have bought into a lie that if I have faith, I won't be sad.
An essential part of the grieving process is allowing ourselves to cry over the sorrow that we feel. Crying is not a sign of a loss of faith, but that the thing that was lost was valuable to you. We must allow ourselves to cry.
Do we really think that God is sitting in heaven looking down at us and judging us for crying when we've had a miscarriage or lost a spouse? Is that really the God that we serve? The bible actually tells us how God feels about our pain.
How Does God Feel about our Loss
God sees and knows our sorrow Exodus 3:7
7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows
God saw the pain that the children of Israel were going through in Egypt during their captivity. God didn't just see, he acted on it. He sent Moses to deliver them from their oppression. Their tears were important enough for God to notice and to act on their behalf.
2. God treasures our tears Psalm56:8
Thou tellest my wanderings:
Put thou my tears into thy bottle:
Are they not in thy book?
Our tears are so valuable to God that the psalmist says He puts them in a bottle and writes our sorrows in a book. Most likely, this is poetic illustration, but it gets across the point. He is deeply concerned for the grief that we bear.
3. He weeps with us John 11:35
Mary and Martha struggled with the loss of their brother Lazarus knowing that Jesus could have saved him death. Jesus arrived three days too late, though. Sometimes, God doesn't work on our time schedule. As Jesus approaches the tomb where Lazarus laid, the Bible says that He wept. Jesus cried over the death of Lazarus. These were real emotions and Jesus was joining in the sorrow of His friends. Some have argued that Jesus wept because of their unbelief; however, the passage tells us exactly why He wept. Those standing by declared, "Behold how He loved him." Jesus weeps with us because He loves us.
4. He will wipe away all tears Rev 21:4
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
There is coming a day when all wrongs will be made right. God will gently wipe away the tears in our eyes.
A Word of Caution
There is a danger in bottling up our tears. As I teach through the book of Lamentations, I am continually challenged in my heart to make the book practical. Lamentations is intended to be a model for how to grieve when we go through loss. If you are unaware of the idea of Lament check out my article here. Over and Over again in the book of Lamentations we see crying. Lamentation 1:2, "she weepeth sore in the night," vs 16 "for these things I weep," chapter 2:11 "mine eyes do fail with tears," 3:8 "also when I cry and shout" on and on it goes. An essential part of Lament is crying; so we must not keep back out tears.
There is an extreme in most issues of life. You have those who never cry and those who cry too long. A study quoted by Standford University states,
Depression is a normal response to the loss of a spouse or parent," Nolen-Hoeksema said, "but there are big differences in people as to how long that depression lasts. Most people show significant recovery from a grief-related depression within six months, but people who are still very depressed after six months are at high risk for remaining depressed for a very long time after that.
The danger is that we never find healing. Lament is intended to turn us to Christ and move forward; not to wallow in the pit of despair forever. Contrary to this study, I don't think we can set a time limit on grief, but it is important to move forward in faith. Many times we get stuck in the complaint stage of Lament and never find the choosing to trust stage of Lament. Often times, being stuck in depression and grief forever results because we never grieved properly. It is going to take time to start that process again and work at grieving in a healthy, biblical way. Don't take this caution as a hardened rebuke if you find yourself stuck, but a tender encouragement to not lose sight of who God is.