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A Good Cry: The Blessing of Tears

…weep with those who weep.
– Romans 12:15

I didn’t realize how much I needed to cry.

You see, I was raised in a home where complaining wasn’t given much air to breathe. My parents were (and are) the kind of people that if adversity strikes you don’t gripe about it. On the contrary, you keep your head down, work on what you can work on, and trust God with the things you can’t change. I sincerely believe that upbringing has helped more than hobbled me in life. However, I also think it’s impacted how I emotionally deal with hard things. So, when bad things happen, I tend not to let sadness overwhelm me but narrow my gaze, set my jaw, and move ahead trusting God will continue to work in me and around me.

Again, I think that’s a good thing most of the time. But there are times when it’s not.

Last week was one of those times. Without going into details, some bad things happened. Real pain. Real sorrow. Real suffering. Yet my standard “keep your head down and be strong” strategy wasn’t cutting it. It left me feeling incomplete. Something was amiss in me. I began to sense that I needed to talk with friends about my struggles – guys who knew and loved me. So I did, and in describing my “bad times” I often found myself in tears. Sometimes I was unable to speak as woe washed over me. It was pretty clear in my tearful confession that I believed things were very, very hard. But I also discovered that after my confession my spirit felt lighter. In other words, sharing my pain with others to the point of tears actually ministered to me. Did my situation change? Nope. But there was no question I was “better” for doing it. It has given me some relief, decompressed me, help me come up for air.  Looking back, I realize what I needed most at that specific time wasn’t teaching, counsel, or direction.  I simply needed, in my wife’s parlance, a good cry.

The truth is sometimes the thing we need most in the face of bad times isn’t a stiff upper lip, keeping your head down, or charging straight ahead. It’s sitting down and shedding tears. To do anything less isn’t honest. We lie to ourselves and to God about our capacity and our neediness. We also forfeit a way of relief God has wired into us, one in which Jesus availed himself when times demanded (cf., Lk. 19:41; Jn. 11:35). Tears are good. Tears amongst friends are better. Tears amongst friends who know and love Jesus that will shed tears with you are a blessing.

So, don’t fall into the illusion that no matter how great the pain, you must always play the “strong one” in the room. Don’t worry, God has already claimed that seat. That same God also blessed you with the capability to express your pain through tears. And if there are seasons where deep sorrows need to surface, let them.

You may find afterwards what you needed most was a good cry.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

6 thoughts on “A Good Cry: The Blessing of Tears”

  1. Yancey – good stuff! I was raised in a home much like yours and I have come to learn (and appreciate) just how a “good cry” can be healing and cathartic! Thanks for openly sharing the guy side of this! Blessings to you, my friend!

  2. Debra kay Yarbrough

    Thank you for sharing. I too was raised in a home where it was not permissible to show any sign of weakness. It took me a long time to allow myself to to cry. I always felt like
    I was showing weakness. Now maybe I cry too much LOL. I just want to let you know how much I appreciate your teachings and honesty. Since I started at Clear Creek Clear Lake Campus in June 2011 I have really grown so much. I have been a Christian since 1985. I have never heard the word taught like I hear it at this church. I am so glad to be here. My precious daughter endured a lot to persuade me to start coming to Clear Creek Community Church. So thankful and grateful I followed her urgings. It is exactly where God needed me to go. I have been set free from a lot of wrong teaching. I am learning how to grow in Christ with others which is so freeing. My neighbors came with me after hearing all of the excitement I shared about this church. They both love coming and hearing the word. All of you made a huge impression on my neighbors. They were astonished in your laid back teaching, appearance and honesty. My husband has really had his eyes opened and is starting to come. As even joined a mens group. I cant say thank you enough for being a faithful servant and teacher of God’s word.

  3. Thanks for so much honesty and transparency! I was raised to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Emotions were not aloud to be expressed…anger was bad, “don’t cry unless your hurt or someone dies…” We went to a “dead bones church, and Christianity was not lived in my home. I stuffed all my feelings for years and became suicidal at the age of 17. I have since learned that emotions are neither bad nor good, they just are. I have experienced much pain in my life and relied on myself and medication to get me through. As my faith, knowledge and understanding grew…I accepted I am the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:21) and I turn to The Lord in my times of sorrow and pain. I have a good cry and cry out to the One who can hold me through the storm. I pray that God will be glorified in each storm that comes my way…and remember brokenness is a good place to be. Yancey, thank you for your testimony on tears!

  4. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing openly something hard to admit and express. Sometimes it takes a lot of pain to crack our tough exterior. I am learning to be thankful for the blessings of suffering. Especially when we can learn from walking beside others. This post is rich with learning. Walk beside, weep with, rejoice with those you love. Be authentic in your sadness with those you love. Be sad when you’re sad. It’s good to cry when you need release.

    Good stuff.

  5. Jennifer Patton

    Great post. Makes me think of John11:35. Jesus Himself wept at the death of Lazarus and the sorrow of Mary and Martha. So moved by their grief, He called to His Father who heard Him as always [So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that You sent Me.'” (vrs. 41-42)], and then He raised him up to life! Whether a cessationist or continuist, the Word teaches us that Christ is still heard by the Father and He still weeps with us… and He is coming back for us!! [“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John14:16-21)]

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