I remember it as the one time in my life when I openly experienced the goodness of grief.
I don’t come from a crying family. If we shed tears, we did so in private . . . and then only for brief episodes. But for me, grieving changed when my father died. I thought I was handling his death well as I watched him die in an Atlanta hospital. I even kept my composure when we went to the funeral home to view his body before the funeral. But during the funeral—as songs were played that my father loved—I lost my composure. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t hold back the tears or even the open weeping. This grief was different, but it was good. It helped me process my loss.
Spending seventy years serving ruthless enemies discouraged God’s people. These same enemies had also destroyed what was most precious to them: the Temple in Jerusalem. And so they cried . . . grieved. Would they ever leave captivity? Would God’s house ever be rebuilt?
There was a time when the picture of the strong, rugged American kept many from weeping openly. Crying wasn’t for boys or men, and women didn’t do much of it either. We could handle anything. We could pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.
Depending on the translation used, “Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in the Bible. He wept when He looked at Jerusalem—a city of unbelievers with a sordid history. He wept when His good friend Lazarus died prematurely. He cried while on His knees in a garden when He thought of His impending doom on the cross.
If the Son of God grieved, it must be something good about it. Mourning, in whatever form it appears, benefits us and helps us process whatever has brought our sorrow. Tears release pressure and cleanse the soul. They are for strong-minded people, not weaklings. Only when grief goes beyond a reasonable period or is processed in unhealthy ways does it stop being good and start being bad.
Let yourself experience good grief when sorrow enters your life.
(photo courtesy of pixabay.com.)
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Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, pastor, and author who has been published in numerous publications. He also serves as Managing Editor for both Christian Devotions and Vinewords.net. He is the author of six books. His most recent book, Don’t Just Live...Really Live, was released in November 2021. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of six. He can be contacted at [email protected].