Monday, June 14, 2010


A few months ago, my friend David Murray posted on his blog about tears – and how he was noticing that the older he became, the more easily the tears seemed to flow.

David’s in his early 40s. I told him to wait until his 50s – when the real waterworks begin. Although, to be honest, I’ve always been prone to that most embarrassing of male actions – unexpectedly crying.

I cry at movies, both sad ones and the sappy parts of happy ones. I cry at moving passages of novels. I get teary-eyed with certain YouTube videos (like the ones that show the fathers/soldiers returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan and surprising their kids at school) (I get teary-eyed just writing about how teary-eyed I get with these). I read newspaper stories – like how the small church in Arkansas opened its doors to the families who lost relatives in the recent flash flooding at the park campsite – and my eyes fill.

Fortunately, my wife is used to it. But it’s embarrassing at work when I read something online that moves me to tears and then someone walks in my office.

There’s a good precedent.

Almost all of the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John is devoted to the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Very few miracles recorded in the New Testament get that kind of emphasis. And the pivotal verse of that chapter is v. 35, which also happens to be the shortest verse in the entire Bible.

Jesus wept.

That two-word verse is stunning. The creator of the universe did that most human of things, a thing often perceived (in males) as weakness – he wept.

The context is important, if a bit ambiguous. He sees Mary, sister of Martha, weeping at the death of her brother. He sees the Jews who are with Mary also weeping. And he is “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (NIV). Still, he doesn’t cry at that point. He asks where the body of Lazarus is, and when the crowd says “come and see,” that’s when he cries. Then once more he’s “deeply moved” as he comes to the tomb. He prays, and tells Lazarus to come out. Some immediately believe; others rush off to report to the Pharisees and the chief priests, who decide that the time for Jesus to die has finally come.

As for his tears, was it the weeping of Mary and the crowd that prompted Jesus to share their grief? Was it the lack of belief in what Jesus was truly about that the crowd didn’t understand? Was it facing the death and the tomb of someone he dearly loved? Or was it seeing a picture of his own future before him, knowing what lay ahead – betrayal, beatings, the most horrible of deaths called crucifixion and then death? Yes, he knew the ultimate ending, but that didn’t prevent feeling the deepest emotions at what he was facing.

What is clear is that, in this case, he did the one thing he always resisted doing – he deliberately gave the crowd a sign. He raised Lazarus from the dead “that they may believe you sent me.”

It’s all there in two words, the whole story of his life, death and resurrection, the most astonishing story of compassion ever, told in tears, the tears that are a sign for us, a sign to me of what my own tears should remind me of.

Jesus wept.

To read more posts on compassion, visit Bridget Chumbley’s blog One Word at a Time.

Photo of man crying courtesy Photobucket.


S. Etole said...

This is deeply moving, Glynn ... the insight is powerful. And it doesn't surprise me that you are a man given to tears ... I think that it goes along with humility and compassion which are so evident in your writing.

katdish said...

What a wonderful take on this favorite bible story--beautiful. I'm a little teary eyed myself.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

I get teary-eyed just writing about how teary-eyed I get ...


I think life is a gift of most tragic beauty. I cannot imagine responding to it with anything less than the unbidden tears which disolve part of whom I am into nothingness.

Anonymous said...

seems to me to be a very good quality.

Sandra Heska King said...

Tears and a tender heart. I see Jesus.

Kathleen Overby said...

iLike your freedom and ability to shed tears, and your post. Real men cry. Thanks for 'telling it true'. :)

iThink Jesus wept with compassion too - because they couldn't know or understand what Lazarus was leaving/giving up - heaven.

Jesus, he knew.

Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke said...

Wonderful post, Glynn. Thanks for sharing. Tears sure are gifts from heaven. Be blessed as you bless others.

Louise Gallagher said...

Tears are the words the heart cannot speak.

Beautiful post.

Beautiful heart.

Beautiful man.

Thank you.

Gwen Stewart said...

Strong men take action. Caring men cry. The very best of men emulate our Savior and do both.

God bless you today, Glynn.

Scott Couchenour said...

Great post (thanks for giving men permission to cry :) I think Jesus wept because he was relational. That's what He was used to in communion with the Father and Holy Spirit.

The times I cry are most often related to some form of pain I see in others (relationship).

H. Gillham said...

My father was a crier. My husband is not.

One brother is a crier; the other is not.

Tears are a gift from God, truly; he gave us that for a purpose. We need to use it.

I too love your perspective on that story from John.

I have always wept -- and when I do, I feel it in my spirit.

Loved this post.

Maureen said...

This is an open and tender and moving post, Glynn. My wish would be that any men who feel it is weakness to cry read this to understand the power that tears have.

Duane Scott said...

Whoa... That was a bit awkward there for a bit. I thought I was going to cry. The words just began swimming a bit. That's all. :)

Beautifully written. This is probably my favorite post by you.

Oh, and women find it really endearing when a man cries. Remind me never to go see Marley & Me with you.

Candy said...

So moving, Glynn. The testerone in my house never quite understands my frequent tears for just about every emotion. All I need to know is that Jesus does. I will now include weeping in my quest to be like Him.

Michael said...

teared me up glynn.

Jeff Jordan said...

You know Glynn, every time I read your words I think how great it would be to have a father, brother, friend, mentor (or all of the above) like you.

Thanks for your honesty...your vulnerability. Funny timing of this post-I just cried over my nine year old's baseball game this weekend. Not an all out river, but enough to wipe the eyes. Just seeing him perform and behave so graciously for a change opened the gates. Talk about embarassing. I had to act like my allergies were bothering me.

Maybe one day I'll have the courage to admit the truth...maybe.

Linda said...

I got teary-eyed reading this beautiful post Glynn. I really do like a man who can cry. I think it shows a strength that words can't quite describe.

Anonymous said...

Powerful, honest, and touching... you have such a wonderful way with words, Glynn. Thank you for this.

Fatha Frank said...

Glynn, I'm the same way. I cried watching Finding Nemo for crying out loud! Oh wait, I did.

Anyway, I've always wondered what was going on in Jesus' mind and heart at that moment. So human an emotion, yet the divine in him knew that death holds no power. Hmmm. More to think about for sure. I'm stealing your post, btw, because I'm about to write something very similar. :)

caryjo said...

Being with someone who has a sense of what others are facing, who has a heart/spirit and "sees" the challenges, and allows their eyes to reveal that "heartiness" is a real blessing. You are obviously that way -- and I happen to be married to one like that. It's wonderful. And connecting that to our dear Lord is very insightful. Thanks.