Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Learning To Weep

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15 NKJV) 

One of the greatest lessons I learned from losing  my wife is to talk less and empathize more. Sometimes experience is the only way we can learn what Paul means in the second half of this verse.

I'm reminded of a scene from the movie Forest Gump, in which Forest is taking a walk through the  old neighborhood with his lifelong girlfriend, Jenny. Suddenly they find themselves looking at an abandoned shack, which Jenny recognizes as a place from her childhood - a place filled with painful and abusive memories. She looks at it for a few minutes silently, and then she drops to her knees, grabs a handful of rocks, and hurls them at the house. She repeats flinging rocks at the shack until she falls to the ground exhausted and weeping. Forest looks at her quietly and then says, "Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."

And sometimes there aren't any words. You can hurl word upon word at a situation and it will help little if any. Sometimes what a person needs is not words. Those are the times Paul refers to here - times when we ought to weep with those who weep, and keep the words to a minimum.

Job went through some things, if you recall. And after he had lost his health and his wealth and his family and his reputation, some of his friends came to comfort him. They started out so great:

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:11-13 NKJV) 

What a great start! But then they opened their mouths and it all went downhill.

When a brother or sister hurts, our words are not as important as our tears. Be there. Weep along with them. Weep with those who weep. They will get far more from your tears than your words at times like that.

(For more on the topics of grieving and ministering to the grieving, please see William E. Johnson's book "MY Grief Observed", available on and at bookstores everywhere.)

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