Why it’s Okay to Cry

"When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was deeply moved in His spirit and troubled." -John 11:33

Have you ever been in a hard place? One of those seasons where you can’t seem to move on? You felt depressed? Alone? Stuck?

In John 11, we meet 2 sisters who feel exactly like that. Their names are Mary and Martha. Their younger brother that they loved SO much has just passed away. We can assume that since he was younger than Mary and Martha that it was most likely unexpected. Talk about some hard stuff.

They’re walking through the stages of grief when their good friend Jesus shows up 4 days later.

How many times have you been in a hard season (whether as extreme as death or as small as school being tough) that you’ve confided in someone and they’ve told you something to the effect of, “God will take care of it! You’ll be fine!” and then expected you to get up with the attitude of, “you know what?! You’re right! I’m just going to move on!” despite all the hard stuff still all around you.

If you grew up in church, this concept is a little bit harder to grasp than those of you who haven’t. Never hearing it before gives you a total advantage. I’ve heard the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (spoiler alert) since I was little, but God challenged me to read the passage like I had never read it ever before. When I did, my whole perspective shifted.

Typically this passage is preached by presenting the message that God can do crazy miracles or that if Jesus was able to raise Lazarus from the dead, we can bring things in our life back to life (finances, love, people, etc.). But when I read it like I had never read it before, something else stuck out to me more than the obvious.

When Jesus finally walks in on the scene, part of you expects for Him to come in like others have come in during our mourning and tell Mary and Martha to get up and stop crying because He’s going to fix it all. I most definitely love the sassy side of Jesus, but in this moment, He trades the sassiness in for sensitivity.

In this moment, the true nature of our Savior is revealed. He is so tender, so caring, and so emotionally sensitive that He sits down with His friends who are emotionally wrecked and He cries with them.

Don’t pass over this like I have for years. Don’t skim this passage and miss the most intimate part. The same man who is getting ready to take care of the whole situation comes along side of His friends and takes part in their grieving process.

Jesus wasn’t grieving His friend Lazarus, the one that “He loves” (John 11:3) because He knew that in mere moments He would be reunited with Him back on this earth, but He was crying due to the face that His spirit was “deeply moved and troubled” by His friends mourning.

Wow. THIS is the God we serve.

Jesus, among other things, is said to be our closest friend. A friend that sticks closer than a brother. If that’s true, that means that when we are in that hard season, when we’re emotionally wrecked, when we feel like we’re stuck, Jesus isn’t like that person who comes along and tells us, “get up, quit the crying, Jesus is good, etc.”. Contrary to what you may have been taught, God does NOT work like that.

Instead, He comes in and He sits down with us and embraces our emotions as His own. Although He could change everything in the next moment, He empathizes with us.

Not only does this show Jesus’ human side, it points out how radical His almighty side is. What other king do you know that would stop and cry with you? What other public figure do you know that would show this kind of emotion?

To put it in perspective, this would be like me seeing an ant on the sidewalk lose its breadcrumb that it had been carrying for days and me getting down on the ground and balling my eyes out beside this small creature. It’s ridiculous! It makes me laugh even just imagining this scenario! Who cares that one single ant lost his breadcrumb?! Thousands of ants die every day, why would I care about one single ant who just lost his food?

But that is EXACTLY how radical this story is! This is the exact reason that the shortest verse in the Bible has absolutely wrecked me this week!

"Jesus wept." -John 11:35

God recognizes that the pain and emotions we experience are real even though He knows that He’s going to take care of everything.

Think that God doesn’t care? Wrong. Jesus wept. Think that God doesn’t want you to have emotions? Wrong. Jesus wept. Think that God doesn’t love you? Wrong. Jesus wept.

Let Him embrace you. Let Him take on your emotions. Let Him be sensitive to your feelings in a way that no other person ever could. Let Him cry with you.

It is okay to cry. It is okay to be upset. Don’t hide your emotions from the man that loves you more than the world. 

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