A Theology of Tears

Published on November 5, 2009 by CT in Blog, Theology


A Theology of Tears

As far as I can tell, tears show up in at least two ways:  1. They well up from within during times of emotional longing, or 2. They spill over from an reservoir of sin that is inside of us.

I cry at the part in Remember the Titans where Julius comes to see a just-paralyzed Bertier in the hospital, and they grab each other’s hand in a moment of regret for all the hatred they had sown on the ground of their budding friendship and the brotherly love they feel for one another.  I also cry at any movie where a father is reunited with an estranged son.  I don’t know if this means anything for me psychologically, because I have a great relationship with my parents and family, but I get all worked up over moments of reconciliation.

I don’t cry over sin spilling out from within, but that’s not because the sin isn’t there.  It’s just because I don’t feel deep shame or grief over my sin, which is a problem in and of itself.  But I know plenty of people who cry when they become frustrated, or to release anxiety, or when they are deeply hurt and feel bitterness in the hearts.

I don’t mean to make crying out to be a bad thing at all; Jesus calls those who mourn blessed (Mt 5:4).  Jesus Himself wept twice that we know of, one the silent tears of grief (Jn 11:35) and the other the wailings of an anguished soul (Lk 19:41).  So the God-man cried, just like we do.  But He did so perfectly, crying righteous tears.

Even so, the Bible promises a day when there will be no more tears (Rev 21:4), and I think it does so because in the presence of Jesus there will be no more longing and no more sin.  We will drink in the glory of the Living Water who satisfies and creates deeper cravings for more of Himself.

Until then, I want to be more like Jesus, to weep over the cities that are blind to the things that make for peace and to comfort those who mourn with gentle hands and shoulders.  And I want to see the tears of this world as drops that remind me of the Living Water who will dry every tear in that glorious coming day.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/melmollner melmollner

    "in the presence of Jesus there will be no more longing and no more sin. We will drink in the glory of the Living Water who satisfies and creates deeper cravings for more of Himself."

    This spoke to me so clearly…

    PS- I have my own theology of tears. They are a gift- use them when necessary or they will dry up.

  • Deirdre

    I can completely relate to the tears over the sin in the world, the constant selfishness around us, the lust and greed for more in American culture that seems to be the motivating factor for so much of what happens economically. I also have been in a personal time of deep longing for more — more of God ultimately but not recognizing the longing as such. This very day I've been brought to tears several times over those issues which led to grief over my own selfishness and hardheartedness towards the things of God. Then I read your blog and listened to a song entitled, Invisible Love. God is breaking through the barriers I erect around myself for protection and made me realize the longing is inevitable if we want to go deep with God. Jesus once told his disciples we don't grieve while we have the bridegroom — we long for him when he is away or while we anticipate his arrival. I recognized that my longing and dissatisfacition is a holy longing — as the Bride I long to be united with my Groom! I long for what I have not yet experienced and yet know, at some level, is far better, far sweeter, far more intimate than anything I've known thus far.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Chris_Tomlinson Chris_Tomlinson

      Beautiful words, Deirdre. You say at the end that you long for what you have not yet experienced–and I can resonate with that–but I can also see the joy you're finding in what you are experiencing today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts…