“Those who sow in tears will reap in shouts of joy” (Psalm 126:5)
The other night I came home from our Lenten Study time to put the kids down to bed. As I walked in the door Jennifer asked me, “So, how did it go?”
“Really good. I think the spirit was moving. I don’t know how talking about Old Testament Hebrew feasts translates to the Spirit’s moving, but it did,” I replied.
“How is that,” she said.
“Well, people were moved to tears,” I replied, “I take that back, they were not crying, they were moved enough emotionally that they were restraining tears as they shared how they had experienced God’s providence and watch care over them. Tears, or almost tears, I think, is often a good sign that the Spirit is at work, in my experience.”
She nodded and smiled. Ask Jennifer to share her testimony of faith in Christ, and she can hardly get through a paragraph without being reduced to tears. Still, it is the Spirit’s work in her life is that real and that raw for her. It is truly a beautiful thing.
Ancient Church Father Evagrius said that tears “soften the savage hardness in your soul”
I, like some of those folks on Wednesday night, have an aversion to shedding tears in public. To be honest, I have an aversion to shedding tears anywhere. I don’t like tears because they represent, for me, a loss of control. A failure to master my own tear ducts, so to speak. This may be part of why believers, throughout history, including myself, have seen the appearance of being moved in some direction toward tears as a sign of the Spirit’s moving. Because, in the right time and the right place, this sense of being out of control is the evidence of the Spirit taking control.
I used to organize youth gatherings during my days as a youth pastor. We would bring together teenagers from around the state, we would sleep on the floors of a church, and we would play, worship, and pray together. And, inevitably there would be a service where the power of God would be at work, and there would be tears. For some, it was coming to terms with the grief of the pain they were dealing with, and letting God minister to them with his love in the midst of the heartache they felt. Other times, it was a deep sense of regret over sin and personal failure, and seeking God’s help them make meaningful change in their lives. It was often in response to something unplanned that this sort of thing would come about, so that none of us could take credit.
As we walk toward the cross this Lenten season, let us open ourselves to the Spirit’s work among us. Let him renew our faith and cleanse our hearts, so that Easter hope may once again be born in our hearts and lives through a renewed relationship with him. Amen.