What Does The Bible Say About Crying

The Nature of Crying

Crying is a physiological and psychological phenomenon. The human body is equipped with tear ducts which are responsible for producing tears in response to various triggers. From a psychological perspective, crying can be a reflection of any number of underlying emotions – sadness, fear, anger, joy, or even relief. Whatever the cause, the act of crying is an inherent part of being human.
The Bible has a lot to say about crying. Crying is discussed often throughout scripture, not to mention the many tears shed by both God and man. In fact, the word “tears” appears over 200 times in the Bible. Here, we will look at what the Bible says about crying and the emotions that accompany it.

A Sign of Weakness?

In modern society, crying is often seen as a sign of weakness, something which should be done in private and done quickly. However, the Bible provides us with a different perspective on crying. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”. Here we see an acknowledgement that crying has its place and is an important part of life.
At the same time, the Bible does not encourage the expression of negative emotions. Instead, it encourages us to be strong in the face of adversity. Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” This indicates that while crying is a natural response to pain or sorrow, it is not something to be ashamed of and can be an opportunity for God to work in our lives.

God Grieves with Us

One of the common threads that we see running through many biblical stories is that God knows when we are sad and hurts with us in our pain. We see this in the story of Joseph and his brothers, when Joseph is betrayed by his own kin and thrown in a pit. In Genesis 37:34-35 we read, “[Joseph] was still speaking when Judah seen him and said ‘This is the dreamer! Come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits.’ But when Reuben heard, he tried to save him from their hands. He said ‘Let us not take his life.’ And Reuben wept”. In this story, we see that even though Reuben and Judah may have been in disagreement with Joseph, they still cared enough to weep.
In another instance, God himself is said to have wept. In Luke 19:41-44, Jesus is seen weeping over the city of Jerusalem. Here we see that God is not only aware of and sympathetic to our pain, but is willing to grieve with us. Crying can also be a powerful way of relating to God as He is familiar with how we feel.

Crying as an Expression of Praise

Not only does the Bible discuss the use of tears in times of sorrow, but also in the case of joy and gratitude. The Book of Acts 9:36-39 tells of the story of Tabitha, who after being raised from the dead, “spoke, and then she stood up. And when they had seen it, they were all filled with great joy, and they began to praise God. And as many as had been witnesses of all these things cried out with joyful shouts”.
The Bible encourages us to cry out from the depths of our hearts in praise to God when our joy is too much to contain. In Psalm 126:5-6, it reads “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. They will come back with songs of joy carrying sheaves of grain”. This is a promise that God will not only comfort us in our sorrow, but that He will multiply our joy in return.

What Can We Learn?

To conclude, the biblical perspective on crying is complex. We can learn from the Bible that in times of sorrow and suffering, it is important to not shy away from emotions. We can draw strength by allowing our tears to flow and knowing that God is with us. We also know that our tears of joy and gratitude can be an expression of praise to God. Whatever our emotions, crying is an important part of the human experience, one which the Bible recognizes and enables us to draw closer to God with.

Tears as a Sign of Repentance

Tears can be a sign of repentance, a recognition of our sins and our need for God’s grace and forgiveness. In the book of Nehemiah, chapter 9, we read of the Israelites responding to the reading of the Law by weeping before God in contrition. In verse 17, it reads “They refused to listen and did not remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff – necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt”. It is only when the Israelites returned to God and begged for mercy, that He hear their prayers.
This story can serve as a reminder that when we have strayed from God’s path, prayer and anguish can be the tools which help us to turn back to Him. In Luke 18, the Bible tells of a tax collector who had gone astray, who in crying out to God said “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus praised this tax collector, saying that his contrition was an act of pure faith compared to the lack of faith of the other people.

Value of Tears

Crying, then, can be seen as something of great value. By recognizing and accepting our sorrow, we can come to terms with our need for God and seek out His grace and mercy. In Proverbs 28:13, it says “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Crying can be an important part of this process, and is evidence of our brokenness and of our willingness to be humbled and to seek after God.

The Power of Tears

Finally, it is important to recognize the power of tears. The Bible tells of the benefits of crying to our physical and mental wellbeing – Psalm 126:5-6 promises that those who sow in tears will reap with joy, indicating a more fruitful harvest when we have gone through the trials of grieving. Our tears can help to flush out stress hormones from our bodies, allowing us to have a sense of release and to take a step back and gain some perspective.
Although not always pleasant, crying is a part of life and has its place in the face of both sorrow and joy. Crying can be a way of acknowledging God’s power and of recognizing our need for Him. In essence, the Bible encourages us to embrace our tears and to use them to strengthen our relationship with God.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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