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What Makes You Cry?

Why is it that some people rarely cry while others weep at the opening of a new supermarket? Sometimes it is a matter of maturity. While we expect babies to cry when hungry or frightened, we encourage older children to “Be a big boy” or “Be a big girl and don’t cry.”

It’s partly temperament too. Many sanguine temperaments weep easily, while more phlegmatic temperaments often regard emotional displays as melodramatic, undignified, and phony. My friend Wayne Smith would weep nearly every time he preached, while my friend Ben Merold hardly ever did. Both had highly effective ministries, and both had compassionate hearts. They just had opposite temperaments.

Deep hurt. Almost everyone cries when they are deeply hurt. Who has not wept at the graveside of a mom, dad, or child? Even Jesus wept at the tomb of a close companion.


“Even Jesus wept at the tomb of a close companion.”


Happiness. Some people cry when they are very happy. Joseph wept for joy when he saw his brother Benjamin for the first time in many years. Ever watch a family in an airport greet a soldier coming home from Iraq? There are almost no dry eyes in the terminal.

Nervousness. Some people cry when they get really nervous. I once performed a wedding for a bride who was so anxious that she came down the aisle sobbing. The crocodile tears cut a trench of mascara down her cheeks, and dark droplets began dripping all over her white gown. Whoever said they had never seen an ugly bride was not at that wedding.

God’s Presence. Many dedicated believers weep when they sense the presence of God in a special way. One preacher said the first time he heard John Stott, a famous Scottish minister, “I found myself sitting in the pew weeping. I couldn’t explain why. The sermon wasn’t particularly profound, but there was just something special about a clear presentation of the gospel from the heart of a Godly man that touched the soft part of my heart.”


“Many dedicated believers weep when they sense the presence of God in a special way.”


Disappointment. Some weep because of disappointment. When the temple was being rebuilt, “many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy” (Ezra 3:12).

The prophet Jeremiah is sometimes called “The weeping prophet.” He wrote,

“I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken, my spirit poured out, as I see what has happened to my people; little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets. ‘Mama, Mama, we want food,’ they cry, and then collapse upon their mothers’ shrunken breasts. Their lives ebb away like those wounded in battle” (Lamentations 2:11-12, The Living Bible).

Jeremiah wept because the sins of the people had finally come home to roost. Jerusalem, the city he loved, had been destroyed. The people he cared about had been killed or taken into captivity. The weak were neglected, while helpless women and children were tortured and abused. Jeremiah wept because the judgment of God he had warned about for years had finally come to pass.


“Jeremiah wept because the judgment of God he had warned about for years had finally come to pass.”


Jeremiah had a heart like Jesus, who, years later, wept over the spiritual indifference within the city of Jerusalem. When all of Jesus’ followers rejoiced over His triumphal entry, he wept because he knew their spiritual hardness would soon result in their destruction.

Bible college professor George Mark Elliott often described the ineffectiveness of the modern church by saying, “We are too far from tears.” If we had compassionate hearts like Jeremiah and Jesus, we would be so broken over immorality, abortion, pornography, hypocrisy, greed, and divorce that our eyes would “fail from weeping” (Lamentations 2:11). Then maybe our broken hearts would give credibility to the repeated warning that our nation should repent of its sin before it’s too late.

For more from Bob, visit bobrussell.org. Used by permission.

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