I went to a Bible study a few years back with a woman that obviously prided herself on her cheerful attitude. Many times she would make the point how when adversity struck she was always able to bare it with a smile. She joked, and laughed and exuded joy. She was not going to let anyone get her down. And she vowed to always see the silver lining, i.e. the best in everything.
That’s a wonderful thing to show that kind of optimism and joy in trials and tragedy. At the same time, have you ever been around someone that is happy and cheerful, when you really just feel like crawling under a rock? It just is not pleasant. Cheerfulness at the wrong time does no one any good. I believe that is a lesson my Bible study friend had yet to learn.
The Bible also tells us in Proverbs 25:20: “As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart.”
To take a way someone’s coat on a winter day would obviously cause discomfort. Vinegar upon nitre (soda) would effervesce only to lose power and strength. Pretty simple stuff, really – sometimes the best thing we can do is share the tears of the one who is broken and crying.
People need a time to grieve. Certainly we can see it is not beneficial to be condescending to one in trouble or to make light of his grief. We all need a chance to express our sorrow without guilt. Tears are a normal process that allows us to heal. We should remember even “Jesus wept”. And when He did, it helped others around Him understand the great love that He possessed. It causes us to understand it is a very normal emotion and expression. But what Jesus did after the tears is also important. He prayed and went about the work God had for him to do – in this case, raising Lazarus from the dead.
Now obviously, we are not going to always raise someone from the dead; but this does show us the sequence of events that are observed in the healing process of which tears are a necessary part. Give those grieving time; offer them a coat of warmth and love; share their tears in compassion and grace.
“We take a wrong course if we think to relieve those in sorrow by
endeavoring to make them merry.”
~ Matthew Henry
1 Corinthians 12:26