2014 0921 LOP god weeps

Do you think God cries when we cry?

I wonder if God feels sorrow when we feel sorrow, and if He sheds tears, whatever that means in the reality of God. I sort of comprehend that God is beyond us, not human. It would make sense that God doesn’t have human emotions. However, three things lead me to believe that God shares in our human emotions: We were created in the “image and likeness of God.” (Genesis 1:26)

Life On Purpose badgeJesus told us to call God “Abba.” (Mt. 6:9).

God became man in the Person of Jesus Christ. (Phillipians 2:7-8)

We were created in the “image and likeness of God.” (Genesis 1:26)

In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah profoundly expressed the weeping heart of God. The book of Jeremiah is filled with emotions, some of which are expressed by Jeremiah to God. Many of the verses are words from God spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:
“Speak this word to them: ‘Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing; for the virgin daughter, my people, has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow.’” (Jeremiah 14:17)

That verse expresses true sorrow from the heart of God. Even before God became man, it’s clear throughout the Old Testament that God feels sorrow, even weeps for the crushing blows of His people. Psalm 34:18 promises us that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” How can you be close to someone who is brokenhearted and not feel their pain? If we are made in the image of God and we feel sorrow and cry, then I believe that God does too.

I remember the first time I thought God was crying. I was in second grade and getting ready to make my First Communion, which is a very important celebration in the life of Catholic kids. In the midst of the spiritual preparations, we were also planning a family party. With hesitation, I asked my Mom for a special Barbie doll as a communion gift. My Mom smiled and said that was fine. My Aunt, who was a nun, gave me a doll that was dressed as a nun. She was never very subtle.

The preparations for first communion were thoughtful, but the rehearsals were frightening. The teachers spent more time threatening us because we were talking. Looking back now, I can only imagine how hard it was to keep 100 second graders quiet during rehearsals. I was sure that God was mad at us and I started thinking I should be asking for rosary beads instead.

The morning of my communion, I was so excited until I realized that I could hear torrential rain on the roof. I looked out the window to see puddles. It was then that this idea crept into my head; “God must be disappointed at us and He must be crying.”

In one of a few tender moments with my dad, I crawled upstairs to his room, where he was still sleeping in bed. He greeted me and asked if I was excited for the big day. I looked out the window and said sadly, “God is very sad today.”

I told him how bad the rehearsals went, how mad the teachers were and that I was certain that I should take back the Barbie and exchange it for rosaries. “I think the rain is a sign of God’s tears,” I said.

I imagine that those words warmed Dad’s heart.  Dad went on to explain that really, the rain was a sign of blessing. He reminded me that it was spring and the earth needs all that water to make the plants and grass grow and the flowers to bloom. He told me that I did not have to return my Barbie or even wonder if God was sad on this special day. Dad assured me that God was indeed very happy with me and with all the children who were receiving Jesus in a special way.

God became man in the person of Jesus. (Phillipians 2:7-8)

I love that the gospels give examples of Jesus expressing deep emotion, including pity and sorrow and weeping. When Jesus looked out over the city of Jerusalem, He was deeply moved with sorrow: “He saw the city and wept over it.” (Luke 19:41) It could be that as God, Jesus knew of the siege that was to come upon Jerusalem in 70 AD, when the Romans would take the city and destroy the second temple. Jesus, as God and man, wept for the pain of His people and longed for them to turn to Him.

Jesus also showed grief over the death of his friend Lazarus and joined with the distraught family. The verse is short and clear: “Jesus wept.”( John 11:35) At His death on the cross it says that Jesus “cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mt. 27:45)

These verses and more show the pain and sorrow God felt in a human way through the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus told us to call God “Abba,” the name which means “Daddy.” (Mt.6:9)

The final reason that I am certain God shares our sorrow, feels our pain and cries with us when we are weeping, is because that’s what good dads do.

God the father has the heart of the best parent. If we feel pain when our children are in pain, how much more does God, the perfect parent, feel our pain and our sorrow?

Ten years ago, I became certain that God shares our sorrow and weeps with us when we are in pain. We were just coming home from a long hospital stay with my daughter, Johanna. She had an infection in her brain that required surgery and potent IV treatments that were similar to chemotherapy. Our children were young. She was hospitalized before Memorial Day and didn’t come home until the end of July. My husband and I were in survival mode and were barely speaking to each other because of the stress. Our hearts were tired and broken.

We came home from the hospital to weeds in the garden, and a pool that was turning green. My husband and I sat up on the pool deck and just cried. We were hurt and angry and very tired. We shared our hearts and prayed together, asking God to meet us in our struggles.

As the tears flowed from our eyes and hearts, the skies opened up with a gentle rain that mixed with our tear-stained cheeks and soaked our tired bodies. We looked at each other and laughed as we cried. We knew in that moment the Lord had heard our prayers and met us in our sorrow. We knew that truly “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted,” as God was showering us with His tears and showing us His sorrow in our pain.


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Eileen Benthal is a writer, speaker and wellness coach with a B.A. in Theology from Franciscan University. She and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Their youngest, Johanna, is a teenager with special needs. Eileen can be reached at FreeIndeedFreelance.com.


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Eileen is a writer, speaker and wellness coach with a bachelor’s degree in theology from Franciscan University. She and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Email Eileen