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When I was eight years old, I remember standing beside my mom in Church and singing the prelude. Shortly after we sang, however, I was startled to see my singing mom now covered by the tears gently streaming down her cheeks. While it wasn’t every time, many occurrences that year and over the decades followed for me to learn to understand.
In the years to come, I would often ask mom why she was crying. And while I knew Jesus died for me, I also knew my mom was extra-emotional. I never really knew if she was crying because she was so touched by grace, or because she just had a lot of emotions that needed expressing at that very moment. She would often tell me she didn’t know why she was crying. God laid something on her heart, mind, or soul, and that is all it took. I didn’t understand it then. I’m starting to understand it now.
When God Lays It On Your Heart
As a High School English teacher, it has become evident to me that I read and write a lot. Most people would suspect that. But one thing many people, including myself, did not realize about teaching, is the way God can choose to lay something upon those with whom you interact daily.
Because while I suspected I would make an impact on these kids’ lives, I did not predict the immense burden I would feel just four years into it. It’s a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply.
Nothing can prepare you for reading one-hundred and five personal memoirs recounting horrific trauma and upbringings you’d never imagine.
Nothing can prepare you for seeing over half of those students coming from broken, toxic, or divorced family homes.
Nothing can prepare you for feeling such love and concern for your students that you bring it home.
Nothing can prepare you for the tears and turmoil you shed when God gives you a name, and they don’t even know.
Nothing can prepare you for when God lays something on your heart, and all you can do is wait for Him to move.
The Purpose in our Tears
While I’m only a few days into my fourth year of teaching, I can sense and recognize that God is stirring these things in me. And just as my mom wept tears in Church, now here I am driving down a road sobbing. Perhaps because I desire all the kids I teach to be saved. Perhaps because I care about them deeply beyond the four walls of a school. Perhaps for reasons only God knows.
But the older I get, the more I realize this: I cry for them, and I can cry for you whether or not my mind can comprehend it. And that is okay.
Because I believe that when God speaks to your heart and burdens you with something to the point of tears, I have to think it means something. I have to know it matters. Even if I don’t know why. Even if I do.
Jesus Wept, Too
In John 11:35, Scripture tells us that Jesus wept. And while we know He wept here because of His empathy for Lazarus’ family (though He would soon raise Him from the dead), we know that there were probably many times Jesus wept and we didn’t know why.
Jesus wept for Jerusalem when they denied His existence (Luke 19:41-44).
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept 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 19:41-44, New International Version).
Jesus wept for the rich man who turned away in sorrow (Matthew 19:16-30).“And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22, English Standard Version).
Jesus wept for the Pharisees and prostitutes alike.
Jesus weeps for you and me today.
There Is A Reason
But I firmly believe that when God places something on our hearts and minds, He does so for a reason. Even we cannot understand it.
Jesus wept and we hadn’t a clue. But His Father knew, and always will/does.
Like me with my mom, I didn’t understand her tears. It took me decades to understand it, and I’m just starting to understand it now.
To be honest, I cry on a weekly basis: But I know the ways God is moving, working, and speaking to me and through others can and will change lives.
It is worth the tears.It is worth not understanding. It is worth the weight and why.
Because my Father in Heaven knows the answer to the question. The need behind the burden. The prayer behind the name. And just like Jesus with God, all I am to do is be faithful in obedience and open in prayer.
He is the only one who really needs to know the why. And in the meantime, I’ll cry for me, and I’ll cry for you. And I’ll cry for them. Only God needs to know why.