The Psalms is the outcry of a man’s heart to God. This is why the Psalms is one of the most read portions of the scripture, while other scriptures carry God’s voice, instructions and principles to man, the Psalms is the expression of the human desire, fears, and emotions to God. Author Gene Taylor wrote about the Psalms and said, “While most of the Bible is God’s voice calling to His creatures, the book of Psalms is mankind's voice raised to the lord as the various writers express their deep personal feelings, desires, and needs, with the Spirit of God helping them to strike a chord with the heart of God”. This is why we all connect with this book, it is spiritual, prayerful, vulnerable, powerful, and emotional and indeed the book of Psalms is a book written in tears!
Is there a place for tears, weeping in our Christian service? What has tears got to do with God? What has our emotions got to do with receiving answers in prayers? First, there are many of us on one divide of spirituality who believes our tears are enough to move God. There is that popular saying among my people which expresses the idea that they ‘will cry on top of God’s neck’. That’s colloquium that is meant to suggest that when God sees tears he will answer without a care! Yet there are those on the other divide who believes in the power of faith! Faith is all it will take, tears in the eyes of a believer express weakness, a believer ought to be strong in the Lord, God is not moved by our tears and all others that suggest there is no room for emotions in our spiritual walk with God, especially our prayer life! Both sides of the divide are right in their own stance but the word of God provides a balanced perspective, and from the book of Psalms we can learn the connection between our spirituality and the expression of our emotion. But first, we will look at scriptures, other scriptures, and see the place of tears
GOD WILL NOT DESPISE OUR EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS IN PRAYERS
In Ps. 51:17, the Bible tells us, ‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise’ (KJV). God will not ignore our emotional travails and groanings. The Psalmist was writing from experience as we will see in the latter part of this article.
GOD IS SERVED BY OUR EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS
Paul said in Acts 20:10, ‘Serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears…’ (NKJV). Further in Acts 20:31 Paul wrote – ‘…for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night or day with tears’ (NKJV).
And we see a practical demonstration of this service when in the book of Luke, the woman with the Alabaster oil came and washed Jesus feet with oil and with her tears. It was recorded in scriptures, ‘And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment’ (Luke 7:38). And when the disciples and hypocritical Pharisees rose in criticisms Jesus rebuked and praised how this woman has washed his feet and declared her sins forgiven because of that singular act. What she did back then is still been read and praised today!
OUR TEARS GETS GOD’S ATTENTION AND MOVE GOD’S COMPASSION
We see this in the story of Hezekiah when a prophecy of his imminent death was given by Isaiah the prophet. However, Hezekiah will have none of that and turn to God in prayers and in tears, and GOD responded. Isaiah 38:5 conveyed God’s answer, ‘Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years'. Hezekiah didn’t just pray, he cried, and the tears got God’s attention while his supplication provokes God’s intervention. Am I advocating for you to cry when you pray? No, not all of us can be that emotional, however, if and when the tears come, let it course through freely as God will not despise our outpouring of emotions and feelings in prayers!
At the tomb of Lazarus, it was said of Jesus, ‘When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” He asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept’ (John 11:33-35). The master was so moved by the tears that the Almighty could not hold back tears too! Could this be a demonstration of how God feels each time we cry out in tears and pour out our emotions? After all the word tells us we don’t have a high priest that cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, He is hurt when we are hurt and he weeps when we weep, He is a loving father and a caring God!
DAVID PRAYERS AND TEARS
David knew this about God that’s why oftentimes in his prayers he could not hold back the tears. See the prayers and the tears of the Psalmist.
‘I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. 7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies’ (Psalm 6:6-7)
‘Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly’(Psalm 31:9)
‘I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God’ (Psalm 69:3)
It was in those tears he cried out to the Lord and wrote the book of Psalm. In one popular Psalm of his that we have turned to a song today the Psalmist wrote, ‘I cried out to the Lord with my voice and his heard me from his holy Hills’. That’s what many of us may need to do, to cry out to the Lord till he hears us! I am not saying to cry necessarily but if the tears do flow because your soul is overwhelmed please let out that outpouring of your heart like David did, for God will not despise your tears and your prayers! Emotions are part of our spiritual expressions!
Billy Graham wrote, ‘The movie stars emit emotion on our giant screens as ladies in the audience sob and restrained gentlemen unashamedly wipe a tear from their eyes. Television stars use all of their histrionic powers to move the viewers, employing highly emotional sights and sounds to evoke feelings of sympathy, contempt, and passion in the hearts and minds of the audience.”. Another preacher Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, preaching at City Temple in London, asked, “What is wrong with emotion? If Christianity is falling in love with Christ, has anyone ever fallen in love without emotion? Can we imagine somebody advising a young lover saying: ‘I would not marry her if I were you, you evidently feel too deeply about it.’ How could anyone come into contact with the living Christ and feel both His forgiving love and His relentless challenge without the very deepest emotion?”
Our emotions cannot be removed from our spiritual expressions either in worship or in prayers, we must allow the deepest of our being to be expressed to God, he takes pleasure in all of them. It reminds me of a group of leaders I was a privilege to lead and served for some time. Back then we usually have regular all-night prayer meetings at least once every month and each meeting never looks like the one before it, God’s visitation has always left us amazed and wanting more. There was this particular one that we had that witness such an invasion of God’s glory and power, almost everyone was in tears. For the next one or two hours, we pray randomly, worship and cried non-stop. Many of these leaders were going through many challenges and at that moment we all lay them before God in prayers, worship and lot of tears. Few months down the line from that prayer meeting, God has stepped in and changed the stories of almost everyone in that meeting one way or the other!
God sees our tears, he his moved by our tears, but much more than this He promised us that he will wipe away all tears from off our faces. ‘And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it’(Isaiah 25:7-8). Therefore don’t be ashamed to let out those tears in your eyes, but do have faith in your heart that God will wipe away all your tears! What is it that is making you cry? God’s visitation will turn your sorrow to laughter for like Sarah God will visit and make you laugh and everyone that is around you will laugh with you(Genesis 21:1-8). Amen!