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In my twenty-six years of existence, I have learned that I am quite an emotional person. Some might call it empathy, while others call it moodiness. At times, I am both.
On my best days, I feel emotions, and I do just that, I feel them. Feelings come and feelings go. I am happy when a student does well on a test, but frustrated when my dog pees on my bed for the hundredth time. I am excited to see my boyfriend later that evening, but sad when he gets stuck at work an extra hour.
Feelings and emotions are part of the human experience.
On my worst days, however, I feel emotions, and they take over. It is as if I cannot see, or hear anything else because all I can do is feel. I might burst into tears twelve times in one day or never shed a tear until six months later. I might laugh for twenty minutes straight, or get so stuck in my head I can’t even laugh at a joke I relatively think is funny.
More often than not, I cry even when I don’t want to because it is an empath’s sympathy to let them release. In droplets streaming down my face, healing comes in the form of saltwater-stained ripples dressing my fabric.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
I am too strong to feel.
Growing up, I was taught to feel my emotions. Like the characters from Inside Out, I knew that the more I expressed how I was feeling, the less my emotions would randomly and sometimes be haphazardly abrupt from within me.
All teenagers and young adults are moody, but if we teach them to handle their emotions properly, perhaps they wouldn’t be.
Because although I was taught to feel as a child and teenager, I often catch myself thinking I am too strong to feel as an adult. I hold back tears in Church because I think I should not cry. I hold back tears in the shower because I feel weak when I cry. I hold back tears when I am hurting when the reality is that maybe shedding some tears is what will bring some release.
Maybe shedding tears is what truly makes us strong.
We are not too weak to feel, but we certainly must be strong enough to feel. It takes strength, not weakness to show emotion. It takes grace and wisdom and not power to feel it.
Jesus wept, too.
In Scripture, we can learn a lot about humans and our fickle emotions. While Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for sorrow and weeping, for instance, it also reminds us that there will be times for joyful glees and restoration.
But more so than Bible verses that speak about emotions is the One who created and felt the most.
Because the one who created the tears wasn’t afraid to feel or show them.
Three times in the Bible, Jesus Christ taught us that He doesn’t waste our tears.
- When His Timing Doesn’t Match Yours
As the shortest words Christ uttered in the Scriptures, John 11:35 is known as where oil, water, and mucus hit the pavement. Or in other words, where Jesus shed tears Himself.
After receiving word that Lazarus was dying, Jesus chose to wait before going to Him. Once reaching him and hearing how upset his family was, however, we read that Jesus shared in their sympathy. He knew what He was about to do for them, but they did not, and He recognized that.
Moments before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Scriptures tell us “Jesus wept.”
“When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”(John 11:31-37, New Living Translation).
Seconds before a miracle He would orchestra, Jesus chose to weep with us. We did not understand His timing, and we often don’t today. We cannot always see when He is going to choose to do a miracle here on Earth or wait until Heaven to achieve it. But one thing is for certain: Jesus weeps with us when His timing doesn’t match ours. Even if that includes healing at the end of our sorrow.
“Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”(John 11:38-44, New Living Translation).
2. When We Refuse Him
The second time in Scripture that we see Jesus weep is recorded in Luke chapter 19 after He has come to Jerusalem as King.
Days before His crucifixion would occur, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a colt no one has ever ridden. In a humble entrance, Jesus reaches the Mount of Olives where many Disciples praised Him and mockers scoffed at Him. Yet it is those who refuse Him that made Jesus Himself weep:
“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept (boldness added for emphasis) over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:37-44, New International Version).
When Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem, He states, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes”. Jesus wanted to bring everyone freedom, and it crushed Him that so many would refuse that.
While it may not be the shortest verse in Scripture, the same message applies. God doesn’t waste your tears when you shed them, nor does He waste His own when He sheds them over you.
Psalm 56:8 of the New Living Translation reminds us that God keeps track of every single one of our tears or wanderings. The English Standard Version records the word sorrows as “tossings,” and surely He hears every single one (Psalm 39:12; 2 Kings 20:5).
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, New Living Translation).
And what a beautiful gift that is. That the God who created and formed us cares about the tears we shed, even when we cause Him to shed them too.
3. When You Realize All He’s Done For You
During his final hours on Earth, Jesus wept in the Garden of Gethsemane while praying on the Mount of Olives.
After being betrayed by Judas, one of His twelve Disciples, He is brought to sorrow to the point of blood and tears. Asking God to take away this cup of wrath, the Father turns His back on His only Son, leaving Jesus to submit to God’s ultimate will.
In Hebrews 5:7-9, we see this submission of emotion and choice in the measure of His lifestyle:
“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. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:7-9, New International Version).
Because when Jesus shed tears on the Mount of Olives, He didn’t shed them because He was weak or because He had to die on a cross for our sins. Yes, He was fully God. But he was also fully man. And while He could have asked Heaven’s angels to rescue Him at any moment, then the purpose of His life would never have been fulfilled.
Jesus shed tears and asked God to spare Him from death in the Garden so that He could go all the way to the cross to save us from our sins.
As the Passion Translation puts it, Jesus’ prayers were answered when God turned His back on His own Son so that He could fulfill His purposes through Him. The blood, sweat, and tears that Jesus dripped in the Garden would not save us.
The blood, sweat, and tears He had to carry on the cross would.
“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow” (Luke 22:39-45, New International Version).
God doesn’t waste our tears when we don’t understand His plan.
He doesn’t waste our tears when the Doctor says “cancer” or a loved one passes too soon.
He doesn’t waste our tears when we forsake Him and wonder how we ended up we are now.
He doesn’t waste our tears when we cry out to Him in praise and adoration for the life He’s given us that we will never be able to comprehend.
Surely the God who wept tears Himself would never waste the ones you’re afraid to shed.
Surely the God who wept tears Himself would never waste the ones you still carry.