Spiritual Matters – by Rev Chris Sparks
“It’s enough to make you weep!”
This was another of those frequent sayings that characterized my mum. Clearly, there are plenty of things in life that can cause us intense frustration. But whether those frustrations are serious enough to bring tears to our eyes rather depends on the individual – and the depth of the feelings that are causing us anguish. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that many a clown with a huge smile painted onto his or her face can, at the same time, be crying on the inside. Tears are a God-given defense mechanism. The shedding of tears is cathartic. It brings relief from stress and emotional turmoil. But they can also make others feel helpless or uncomfortable. So, well-meaning people will urge those crying to stop – much as they would a baby.
A world-renowned comedian used to reduce his audiences to tears of joy and laughter. But he also knew how to shed tears of a different kind. He loved to entertain those suffering from chronic and debilitating physical illnesses that forced them to go into hospital for long periods at a time; especially children. On one memorable occasion, he was in such good form that he had the patients, their visitors, and even the hospital staff in stitches. But suddenly he left the ward and headed for the bathroom where a close friend found him leaning against a wall, crying like a child. The challenges and suffering those patients were enduring
had pierced his heart – and he could contain it no longer. However, a few minutes later, he was back, as jovial as before – for this was his gift to them! A funeral will usually overwhelm those grieving the loss of a loved one. But anger can also provoke tears. And it seems to me that it’s possible to learn a lot about another person by observing what makes that person laugh, what makes him or her angry, and what reduces them to tears. Jesus wore his heart on his sleeve. The plight of the lepers, those unable to walk, and the people around him who suffered illnesses that physicians of his day could not cure, all moved Him. So, his ministry was as much about curing physical illness as the spiritual condition. The suffering of the people really moved him! Although the gospel writers don’t mention it, Jesus probably enjoyed a good laugh too. But we do know that he wept over Jerusalem as he realized that the temple – the heart of their spiritual worship – would be reduced to rubble within the span of a few short years. He also wept upon hearing of the death of his good friend Lazarus – and reached out to restore him to life again. He was also angry – perhaps to the point of tears – as he witnessed the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem by the money lenders and other dodgy commercial entrepreneurs.
Things that tore at the heart of Jesus should be things that tear at ours too – if we truly reflect the mind and will of our saviour. Injustice, exploitation, and lack of empathy or mercy will also be characteristic of God’s people – and move us to action in support of victims. So, let’s be clear: God values a soft, loving, and deeply caring heart. And he finds it most frequently in mothers!