Is it possible to have the spiritual gift of tears? I have often thought I could get a gig as a professional wailer for funerals. When I was a child, I could be counted on to cry at any given occasion, usually because I wasn’t getting my way, but also because I was sad, or tired, or hungry, or one of my brothers had poked me one too many times.
As I grew older, something changed, and I don’t always produce tears on behalf of myself. I might get a little choked up at a goodbye, but rarely do I really sob because of something that is happening to me or about me.
But let me see someone I love hurting, and look out! I don’t even really need to know what they are hurting about. If someone dear to me has a tear in her eye, my eyes will well up to match it. If someone I know has lost someone dear, I will weep with them. But what’s really weird is the fact that I can see a total stranger sobbing and I, too, will feel overcome with emotion. Does everyone do this? Or is it just me?
Yesterday, I had a good reason to cry. I attended the memorial service for a dear friend who died almost one month ago. I hadn’t seen her in three years, so it’s not like I will miss our daily interactions. She holds a dear place in my heart because of her impact on my life, but I am actually thanking God for taking her after eight long years of battle with breast cancer. My body sighs relief to match her relief. But, despite the fact that I am happy for her, I sobbed yesterday.
And, not really for myself. I think I can be honest about that. The service was at the church she had belonged to for twenty years — where she and her husband had raised their daughters. Many friends had come to share in the celebration of a woman who certainly beamed joy into every room she entered. All the music was up-beat praise music, which is what my friend and her family loved. It all proclaimed the hope she had in Jesus and the certainty of her salvation. None of this made me cry.
What made me cry was watching the back of her tall, broad-shouldered husband of forty years, standing in the front row without her, singing the words of the songs, nodding his head in agreement. What made me leak tears was seeing her daughter embrace her granddaughter, sharing tears of loss and sadness. What made me sob was watching her other daughter stand erect and sure, dabbing at her eyes, then walking to the front of the church to share beautifully her mother’s legacy which she challenged friends and family to carry on.
My day to day life will not be changed because my friend has changed addresses. The lives of her family will never be the same. For them, I wept. For them, I pray for comfort.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall their be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more…