“…She went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.”
Judges 11: 38
King James Version
“A Time To Weep”
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4
What does the phrase, “a time to weep” mean to me in my life?
How do I express painful emotions?
“I dare not ask your very all;
I only ask a part.
Bring me – when dancers leave the hall
Your aching heart.
Give other friends your lighted face,
The laughter of the years;
I come to crave a greater grace
Bring me your tears.”
“Delicious tears! The heart’s own dew.”
L. E. Landon
I love the words of the poet, Edwin Markham, “I come to crave a greater grace – bring me your tears.”
The reality of daily life is that we all like joy and laughter, especially when we share these jubilant emotions in the company of dear friends. But so often, we don’t want to experience the “time of tears.”
When my sister, Sheryl, graduated from Nursing School, there were four girls, I call them a “friendship quartet,” who have stayed in touch through the years. One summer, these friends decided to take a five-day get-away together. When my sister came home she reported that for an entire five days, she did nothing but laugh. Reminiscing about times past and events enjoyed, filled these girls with joyfulness that overflowed. But I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that these four women have been there just as often for the times of tears as they have the times of joy.
This is how time spent with friends should be! King Solomon wrote that there are two sides to the “joy coin.” In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon points out that for all things in life, there’s a right time… a proper season.
In his list for which there is a “right time,” Solomon notes correctly that there’s a time for birth and a time to die. Solomon’s dad, the Psalmist David, may have shared this profound insight with his son when he wrote Psalm 37: 18, “The Lord knoweth the days of the upright (K.J.V.)….” How comforting that God knows all my days, from beginning to end – and that if I live within His purpose for my life, no day is wasted or lost.
But Solomon continues his list of a “right time,” by saying there is a, “right time to cry and another to laugh. A right time to lament and another to cheer” (Ecclesiastes 3: 4, The Message).
Let’s take the words of Solomon a step further as we look into our own lives and the lives of those we hold dear.
I’m not a weeper. I’ve told you this before. My Mother told me that I was born happy. And growing up, I rarely if ever cried. In fact, at a certain point in my life, tears to me were a sign of weakness. I saw them used to manipulate people. I met those who cried so much it was necessary for them to carry hankies around all the time. I didn’t want anyone ever to call me a “weeper or wailer.” So I built a stone barrier around my heart to protect my emotions. On those rare occasions when the pain inside my heart forced tears from my eyes, instead of feeling the relief that some individuals do after a “good cry,” I was ashamed I’d fallen prey to my human weakness.
I’m so thankful that God’s Word has given me release from the barricade I put around my emotions. Not only does the Bible tell us there’s a time to weep, but David asks God if He will, “Record my lament; list my tears on Your scroll are they not in Your record?” (Psalm 56: 8, N.I.V.).
If David’s tears mattered to God, so do yours and mine. God keeps an account of every tear that falls and as I’ve reflected on these beautiful words, it has made me ask this question, “Shouldn’t I also treasure the tears of those I love? Shouldn’t I find that to embrace those I care about during times of tears is just as important as laughing during times of unbridled happiness?”
Unfortunately, when others around us are in a time of weeping and lamenting, we often choose to look the other way because, as I have said to myself, “Their sorrow brings me down – it makes me depressed, too!” What I missed completely is that at the right moment, during a time of sorrowful lamenting, my presence in the life of those I love is just as critical as when we are laughing ourselves silly.
In the story of Jephthah’s daughter, when she asked her friends to come away with her, this wasn’t a fun, fun, fun party. This “coming away” was for a time of bewailment, or as the Hebrew translates it, “a time of mourning or lamenting.”
This was a time for tears – tears that reflected the heartache of what was lost. And Jephthah’s daughter’s friends were willing participants in a right time to mourn. They understood that their tears, mingled with those of their precious friend, would bring a healing balm to her hurting heart.
A few days after my Father died very suddenly, one of his dear friends called me. He and his wife were on vacation and we couldn’t reach them to tell them about Daddy. When they got home there was a message waiting on their phone. Bill immediately called me and all I could hear on the other end of the line was inconsolable sobbing. I said, “Bill, do you want to come over to our house?”
“Yes,” he said. And within a few minutes Bill and his wife were sitting side-by-side with our family. All we could do was cry. Not one word was spoken. We just hugged each other and wept for what was lost.
Our tears didn’t change the situation. But our tears united our hearts together. Our tears wove a fabric patterned with the empathy of undying friendship.
Perhaps in your life right now you are facing a time of mourning – a time of lamenting. How thankful we can be that our heavenly Father understands our tears. Not only does He understand but He collects those tears and He promises that someday soon, He, Himself, will forever wipe those tears of pain from our eyes.
Until that day, may you and I be the keepers of the tears of those we love. May we lament and mourn in empathy as well as we laugh in times of joy.
I want to end today’s devotional with a “Lament from Psalm 29” written by Ann Weems.
For those of you who need to have a hand of love wipe the tears from your eyes, these words are for you:
“Night after night
I collect my tears
and send them to You, O God.
Night after night
I come before You,
Have mercy on me.
Hear my weeping
and turn Your heart to me.
I weep for what was
and will never be again.
I weep for a future
that is no longer possible.
I weep because I love.
Like a willow
on the bank of a river,
from the weight of my tears.
They flood my world,
and there is no stopping their force.
Save me, O God, from drowning!
have You covered Your ears to my weeping?
Have You covered Your eyes
So You won’t see me going under?
Have You forgotten me night after night?
O God, acknowledge me,
for night after night I collect
my tears and send them to You.
I trust in You, O God,
for Your hand can divide the waters,
or gently wipe the tears of the grieving ones.
I trust in You, O God, day after day.”
“Rich tears! What power lies in those falling drops.”
Mary Delariviere Manley
“The soul would have no rainbow had the eye no tears.”
John Vance Cheney
“A Psalm for Women Who Weep”
“We turn to You,
God of the One who wept
for Lazarus and Jerusalem.
We turn to You, God
who surely wept at the death of Jesus the Christ.
You are a God
Who has felt the loss of a child, a people, a friend.
Weep with us who weep for our own
unrealized potential and promises unfilled.
Weep with women learning to weep at the hideous
wreckage of their own giftedness.
Weep for the children,
for the lost girl in a hostile world
or a woman’s hardened heart.
Weep with us, for us, in us,
as we struggle through pain
toward a new tomorrow
when we weep no more.
O God, Refuge for all who weep,
we turn to You. Amen”
Miriam Therese Winter
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
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