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The Truth About Tears



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"I hate to cry!"

The angry words rushed out even as unbidden waterworks slipped from her eyes.

She looked away, sniffed and brushed the heel of her hand across her cheek. "It’s such a sign of weakness!"

My young friend, who preferred to be self-sufficient and in total control of her emotions, was having a meltdown.

She had been describing the ache of loneliness she’d felt since her best friend left for an out-of-state college. "There’s no one who understands me," she sniffed. More tears. "Ahhhh!"

I looked her in the eye. "It’s OK to cry," I said. "I cried today in a meeting!"

A slight smile flickered across her tear-slicked face.

"Yeah," I continued. "And it was over something much sillier than this." In reality, it hadn’t been silly. During the meeting, we had discussed something very near to my heart. Things got heated, and a combination of exhaustion from lack of sleep and my emotion for the subject had conspired to keep me from maintaining a professional demeanor.

Why, Lord? I thought in frustration. Why didn’t you give me the strength to keep it together? Instead, I was sure my blubbering had damaged my credibility.

It was OK for my friend to cry, but showing weakness in public was definitely not for me.

The Strong Don’t Cry

From childhood taunts of "crybaby" to hit songs titled "Big Girls Don’t Cry," our society has learned to scorn tears. They are the trademark of over-sensitive women and babyish kids. They betray weakness.

I cry more than I’d like to admit. It’s particularly annoying when it’s over something seemingly insignificant like hurt feelings or a failed task.

We decide that certain situations warrant tears—for example, the birth of a child or a funeral. However, when a speaker chokes up while delivering a message, he will invariably apologize to his audience. Why? Because he is showing weakness in front of them.

Lord Byron wrote: "The busy have no time for tears." In other words, crying is a useless activity that consumes energy that could be used on worthier pursuits.

"No use in crying over spilled milk," mothers chide.

These sentiments reinforce our contempt for tears and those—including ourselves—who shed them. Those who keep an iron command of their emotions exhibit strength, while those who cry are seen as soft.

Weepy Warriors

Something I have always appreciated about my father is his ability to cry. Throughout my childhood, I would see him tear up while witnessing a touching moment, talking about the Lord, or even listening to a song. My father’s sensitive heart reminded me that his emotions were easily touched by God.

Many heroes of the faith were weepy. Jeremiah, known as "the weeping prophet," wrote, "Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people" (Jeremiah 9:1).

David, a mighty warrior and king, comes across as an emotional basket case. "All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears," he writes in Psalms. And later in the book, "My tears have been my food day and night."

Even the Apostle Paul, not afraid to hurt feelings, was a member of the frequent-tissue club. "I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews" (Acts 20:19).

And consider the insight found in the Bible’s shortest verse: "Jesus wept." Jesus cried over the death of His friend Lazarus, even though, being God, He knew fully well Lazarus would live again. The Savior of the world who would endure the agony of the cross shed tears of grief for a friend. He wept over the city of Jerusalem because peace was hidden from her. And it seems He shed tears over His impending death and separation from the Father.

Hope for the Teary

Tears play an integral role in the Christian life. As I considered my friend’s disdain for a good cry, I decided to look into the truth about tears.

Tears are evidence of a heart in tune with God. Often when tears are mentioned in the Bible they accompany repentance, love, or sorrow for the lost. David wrote, "Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed" (Psalm 119:136). David felt such a passion for God’s righteousness that its opposite evoked tears.

Paul tells the Philippians, "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18).

Luke reports the circumstances surrounding a prostitute crashing a party at a Pharisee’s house to see Jesus. In a shocking display, the woman wets Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair.

When Simon, the host, questions this unseemly behavior, Jesus rebukes him: "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair…. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much" (Luke 7:44-47). Jesus confirmed that the woman’s tears were evidence of her right heart with God.

Tears impact God. Human tears do not go unnoticed by God. I find the story of Hezekiah fascinating. The Israelite king becomes deathly ill and the prophet Isaiah delivers him some bad news: The Lord says Hezekiah’s death is imminent.

Hezekiah prays. He reminds the Lord of what a good guy he is. On top of that, he weeps bitterly … for himself. Hezekiah isn’t weeping over the sin of the nation; he’s tearfully begging for a few more years.

But God is moved by Hezekiah’s tears. He says: "Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life’" (Isaiah 38:5).

Whether shed in grief, frustration, pain, or fear, tears are not scorned by our Heavenly Father. He sees them and responds with compassion.

Tears affect others. Just as my father’s tears made God’s work more real to me as a child ("If Daddy’s crying, this must be something important!"), my tears allow others to see my heart.

American novelist Washington Irving wrote, "There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than 10,000 tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief—and unspeakable love."

When I was suffering with a debilitating illness during college, I broke down in tears during one of my classes. I felt so foolish for not keeping control of my emotions. A few weeks later, a classmate commended me on my example: "Your strength in spite of your pain is evidence of God’s work in your life." My tears did nothing to discredit God’s power. In fact, they revealed more clearly how He was sustaining me.

Those who cry will be comforted. Scripture contains many promises for the teary—the greatest being God’s personal comfort. "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy," Psalm 126:5 says.

One of the most breathtaking verses in Scripture reveals God’s tenderness toward those who cry: "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7:17).

Only through tears can one experience the full measure of God’s comfort. Perhaps that is their main purpose—to expose a soft spot that can be touched by Him. And maybe that is why we prefer not to cry. It’s hard to admit we’re in need of comfort from anyone—even God.

As I reassured my friend, "Tears are part of being human." They are also part of being a Christ-follower. Sometimes big girls (and boys) do cry. And it’s OK.

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Focus on the Family, Zondervan and David C. Cook. She enjoys coffee, good conversation and spending time with her husband, Kevin, and 1-year-old, Josiah.

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Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a regular contributor to Thriving Family magazine and and writes children’s resources for several publishers. After having three children in fewer than five years of marriage, Suzanne and her husband, Kevin, who is a children’s pastor, consider themselves on the family fast-track — a blessing they wouldn’t trade for anything. Gosselin is the author of the newly released, Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.



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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.



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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.



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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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The Truth About Tears

by Suzanne Gosselin time to read: 6 min