When Tears Become a Gift

If there is one thing we are sure about, life is difficult and too often painful, disappointing, and unfair. 

The numerous lives lost in an earthquake in Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries, leaves us shaking our heads in dismay. Forest fires devastating thousands of acres of land and property, causing people to lose everything and become displaced in an instant feels hopeless. In addition, families in our community and church face impossible odds with a cancer prognosis that leaves them overwhelmed beyond their capacity to cope. 

Sometimes all you can do in those moments is weep. Yet, in tears, there comes a calmness that allows us to take the next step amid a dreadful event in our lives.  

Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr writes in "The Gift of Tears":

The "weeping mode" really is a different way of being in the world. It's different than the fixing, explaining, or controlling mode. We are finally free to feel the tragedy of things, the sadness of things. Tears cleanse the lens of the eyes so we can begin to see more clearly. Sometimes we have to cry for a very long time because our eyes are so dirty that we're not seeing truthfully or well at all. Tears only come when we realize we can't fix it and we can't change it. The situation is absurd, it's unjust, it's wrong, it's impossible. She should not have died; he should not have died. How could this happen? Only when we are led to the edges of our own resources are we finally free to move to the weeping mode.

The way we can tell our tears have cleansed us is that afterwards, we don't need to blame anybody, even ourselves. It's an utter transformation and cleansing of the soul, and we know it came from God. It is what it is, and somehow God is in it.

As I write this blog, I am listening to an old hymn we used to sing in church when I became a follower of Jesus in high school. The first stanza says:

Because he lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, All fear is gone, Because I know, He holds the future, And life is worth the living, Just because He lives.

And then one day, I'll cross the river, And I'll fight life's final war with pain, And then, As death gives way to victory, I'll see the lights of glory, And I'll know He reigns.

In the midst of the painful world we live in, there is a hope and a promise secured by the resurrection of Jesus that reminds us every day to keep looking up because no matter what we face, God still holds the future, and the future will one day be without any tears. (Revelation 21:14)

See you on Sunday!