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The Gift of Tears

My friend took me to see the new Disney Pixar cartoon Inside Out. I had no idea what it would be about, but she said I would love it and I did. They did a creative job of illustrating how complicated and wonderfully made we are. I loved the lesson that sadness has a purpose in our emotions and how everything breaks down when we don’t allow this particular emotion to do its work.

Processing sadness leads to peace if not joy. Sadness is necessary in all of our lives. Expressing sadness is the only way to true peace. I don’t know how many tears I have shed over the last three years since my husband died suddenly. God does. Each tear has been a gift from God to help me move towards peace and joy. Each one is so important to God that none have ever gone unnoticed. If I reject my tears, I won’t function properly. I need to honor my tears and be grateful that I have them. Psalm 56:8 says:

Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in your record?

Jesus Himself shed tears while he lived on earth.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission (Hebrews 5:7).

Jesus shows us how important tears are to life on earth. We all have something to cry about in the midst of the joy that life brings. We need to be sad but not forever.

Like all God’s gifts, the gift of tears can be misapplied and lead to more heartache. Crying without hope leads to more despair. Crying out to the God who made us, loves us and wants good for us leads to peace. Good tears are not measured in the amount of water they produce, rather in the change of heart that results from their release. I cry bitter tears when I can’t get what I want, not much better than a two-year-old. My tears can turn to bitterness if I believe my only comfort will come from gaining my own way. My heart-crushing tears can only bring true comfort when I focus them on God and realize, like the Psalmist, that all my tears are noticed by God. He knows earth is a tearful place, but His comfort can get me through.

Tears can help me recognize the presence of God. I feel my eyes wet with tears when I pray or experience God moving my heart in a worship service. These tears, sweet tears, are a gift from God as well. But like bitter tears, they are not the end of the experience. Emotional connection to God is good, but it needs to flow into obedience to what God asks of me. My tears must lead me to focus on God and not just my experience of His presence for them to complete their work.

Revelation 21:4 tells that there will come a day when we will not need tears.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

I am so looking forward to that day. I want all tears to be over; but for today I need my tears, and I’m grateful to have them.


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