Tears flowed down my face as I listened to the news and I was thankful for the phone that separated me from the dear friend who was the bearer of such bad tidings. I swallowed hard and took a deep breath to steady myself before I replied. The question had already been answered but I asked it anyway, “It’s cancer? So she’ll have to take chemo?” I pictured my beautiful friend in my mind and then I closed my eyes to shut out the image as the lump in my throat thickened. I could not bear the thought of my sweet friend – the one who always took care of everyone else – suffering. I struggled hard to maintain my composure while we finished the conversation and discussed things we might do to help ease the burden for our suffering friend.
Tears – they are the language of the soul. They speak volumes without a sound. In fact, one of the most powerful and the shortest verse of the Bible is, “Jesus wept”. Tears are one of the most private of human emotions and most of us struggle to hide them, and yet, tears can be far more expressive than words because those things that bring tears to our eyes really reveal our hearts. Sometimes tears can even surprise us with a depth of emotion we might not have known existed. Although a few days have passed since that conversation, I still cannot think about my friend without fighting a powerful urge to be overwhelmed with grief at the thought of her having to endure suffering. Tears remind me of how much I value her friendship.
Not only do my own tears remind me of those whom I love deeply and perhaps redirect my priorities, but the tears of others have also spoke volumes into my life. On the first anniversary of my son’s death, our pastor’s wife, a dear sweet soul whom I prayed for often and I longed to get to know better, remembered the day when others did not. The fact that she remembered touched me deeply, but that she remembered with tears touched the very core of my heart.
And recently upon the news that a co-worker would soon be moving I was again surprised by my own tears and the tears of another co-worker. The depth of emotion was different, but shared tears drew me closer to my co-workers and deepened the value of their friendship.
Tears open the window to our soul and those things for which we weep reveal the condition of our soul. They not only reveal our true self they can draw us closer to others and remind us of the things we truly value. Man, created in the image of God, grieves. If I am overwhelmed with the power of my own grief, then I am awed beyond words to think that God grieves. I do not like pain, but I am thankful for tears that remind me of the things I value, that reveal something about the heart of others that draws me closer to them, and that open my eyes to the glory of God – a God who grieves.