Identifying With People in Their Trials


"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. [Psalm 30: 5]

I know the old adages: Guys don't cry; Crying is a sign of weakness; etc. Guys there are times when we need to shed tears. When I see a person with tears running down their cheeks it invokes in me both painful and joyous memories. Tears can be tears of sorrow expressing grief over loved one's death and at other times anguish over sin committed. Then there are the tears of pain, loneliness, compassion and yes, even joy.

How often have you found yourself in circumstances like the Psalmist who said, "I am weary with my groaning; all the night [or every night] make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears" [1] wondering if our difficulties will every come to an end.

Maybe your tears like those of the Psalmist reflected inner doubts as they "continually say unto me, Where is thy God? "[2] On other occasions your tears may have come as the result of "comforters" that instead of comforting us acted as judge and jury in their condemnation. No one understood what that was like more than Job. He cried out, "my friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God."[3]


When it comes to those moments that evoke tears, no one understands us more than our Savior. John tells us that our Savior wept over the death of Lazarus and the writer of Hebrews reminds us that as our great high priest Jesus is able to comfort and encourage us because He was touch with the feeling of our infirmities. When it comes to pain and suffering, our Savior's knowledge goes beyond intellectual knowledge. He experienced all the physical pain suffering brings. Jesus' knowledge went even further. He experienced all the feelings that normally accompany pain and suffering.


The most important facet of our tears is that they do not go unnoticed by God. David said, "thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?"[4] Elsewhere he cried, "Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping." [5]


In moments of emotional crisis, we need to remind ourselves of what we know to be true. We know the following to be true: God knows when we are hurting; God cares for us [6]; God never leaves us alone. We may feel lonely in our times of pain and sorrow but we are never alone [7]; God does hear our prayers [8] and our pain and suffering is temporary. Even if it lasts for a lifetime, it is still temporary when we consider the eternal suffering of all those who enter into eternity with Christ. In contrast the believer will spend eternity in heaven where there will be no more tears because all those things that produced pain and suffering here on earth will be gone.[9]

Its one thing to shed tears in our moments of crisis but how do we handle the crisis of others. We often deal with the pain and suffering of others by overlooking it and focusing on the "benefits." We talk about God's purpose for allowing a person's pain and suffering, about how a person will grow and mature as a result or how it will better able us to minister to others. That's true and should never be left out of the equation. If in reaching out to others that is our entire focus, we are miserable comforters. People need someone to recognize their pain and to help wipe away the tears. It's not so much finding the right things to say or giving them a handkerchief but providing a silent shoulder on which they can cry. In the recesses of their hearts during their moments of pain and suffering, they know God cares for us. They need to know if anybody else really cares. Don't be afraid to identify with their pain with your tears. Your tears say that you care.

[1] Psalm 6:6; [2] Psalm 42:3; [3] Job 16:20; [4] Psalm 56:81 [5] Psalm 6:8; [6] 1Peter 5:7; [7] Hebrews 13:5; [8] Isaiah 38:5; [9] Revelation 7:17; 21:14: Isaiah 25:8




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