Speaking with Tears

Speaking with Tears

Question
At times when dealing with people that have suffered a loss, I feel, as a man, I shouldn’t speak at all and just weep with them. Is this biblical? Or is crying as a man a sign of weakness?
Answer
God created us as emotional beings. We presently live in a fallen world, so tears – even for men – are a part of everyday life. Paul wrote in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Some of the most loving and significant words that a person may ever speak are not with their mouth, but with their tears. There are times when no words can satisfy the soul. But tears can penetrate the soul deeply. They can change and even challenge the one suffering grief. That someone really cares means more sometimes to them than a million words could ever convey.

While Job’s three friends — all men — said many wrong things, they were right in their sympathy for him. Job 2:11 says, “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.” Job – a man – understood the impact of tears. In Job 30:25 we read, “Did not I weep for him whose day was hard?” Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” And the writer of Hebrews wrote, “Remember those in prison as if you were bound with them, and those who are mistreated as if you were suffering with them” (Heb. 13:3).

Friends occasionally weep together (1 Sam. 20:41). During catastrophes it’s not uncommon for many to weep together (1 Sam. 30:4). Tears may be a sign of strength, repentance, grief, etc. And yes, real men do cry. The Bible tells us so: Gen. 27:38; 29:11; 33:4; 37:5; 42:24; 43:30; 45:2, 14, 15; 46:29; 50:1, 17; 1 Sam. 20:41; 24:16; 30:4; 2 Sam. 1:12; 3:16; 3:32; 12:21, 22; 13:36; 15:30; 18:33; 2 Kings 8:11, 12; 13:14; 20:3, 5; 22:19; 2 Chron. 34:27; Ezra 3:12-13; 10:1; Neh. 1:4; Esther 4:1; Job 2:12; 16:16, 20; 30:25; Psa. 6:6, 8; 30:11; 39:12; 42:3; 69:10; 102:9; 119:136; Isa. 16:9; 22:4; 33:7; 38:5; Jer. 25:36; 41:6; 48:31-32; Lam. 2:11; 3:48-49; Hos. 12:4; Mic. 1:8; Zech. 11:3; Mal. 2:13; Matt. 26:75; Mark 14:72; Luke 19:41; 22:62; John 11:35; Acts 20:19, 31, 37; 21:13; 2 Cor. 2:4; Phil. 3:18; 2 Tim. 1:4; Heb. 5:7; 12:17; Rev. 5:4; 5:5.

So, while there is an appropriate time for words, there is also an appropriate time for tears. And when we do cry, God hears (Psa. 34:15) and even keeps an account of our tears (Psa. 56:8). Tears are only temporary (Psa. 30:5; Luke 6:21; cf. Psa. 147:3; John 16:20) and one day God will wipe away every tear (Rev. 21:4).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).