Weeping as a Spiritual Discipline

6.16.2020 Morning Meditation

Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents…For they come weeping to me…I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once—if I have found favour in your sight—and do not let me see my misery….So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you. I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself.

Numbers 11

As chaplains, we hear the weeping and burdens of the people.  What people go through can be heartbreaking at times.  People unload.  The pain of loss needs words, actions, and community to be enacted.  When the people of God are weeping and sharing their burdens, it’s the priests that are carrying the load, trying to hear what God is saying.  To see how God might be providing, delivering, and meeting the needs.  

There is a mystery to sharing our burdens and discerning God’s presence.  When we have undergone a loss, what are we to do with it?  When we weep, how is God with us?  What does God do with our pain?  

In the Old Testament, it seems like God hears the weeping and responds.  In the New Testament, people share their burdens with Jesus and He responds.  

It makes me wonder if there is always a response. Sometimes a hidden response that must be discovered. The burden is to be named from as many possible angles. The loss must be named. The pain must be lifted up with cries.

Weeping becomes a spiritual discipline. Yes, a form of prayer. I don’t want to say rote prayers in a time of loss and hardship. I need to weep, cry out, and make my pain known to a God who cares and listens.

Somewhere, I’ve heard that people only turn to God when they’re in need. And to that I say, “SO WHAT!!” Let them turn to God in their despair. Let them turn to God in their deepest losses and pain. The pressures of life are real. The presence of God in community is also real.

This passage helps shape my vocation as a listener and priestly presence. I need part of God’s Spirit to fill me and animate my ears, eyes, thoughts, and feelings. Why? Because and I want to hear with God’s heart. I want to see with God’s eyes. I want think God’s thoughts. And I want feel God’s emotions. My capacities are limited. But God is not limited.

I can’t tell you why, but I deeply care about others. I want to see others healed and made whole. I want to be in their corner, rooting for their lives to flourish. If I feel like that, I wonder how a loving God feels about humanity.

A worship band I played with wrote and arranged this original song. It was birthed from a passage in the book of Revelation. The main line is “Weep no more”. It suggests that as God has introduced us to what Heaven on Earth looks like in the form of Christ Jesus, the ending to the story is that the Lord Jesus has carried and heard all of our burdens. He has conquered all pain and death through his sacrificial life and death.



Healing from Loss

During a grief counseling visit, a family member of the deceased shared some wisdom with me. They said, “if I’m sad, I allow myself to be sad. If I’m mad, I allow myself to be mad. And if I cry, I allow myself to cry.”

Losing a loved one breaks the heart. There is no way to explain the amount of suffering and pain some may feel. But there is hope. Like grief, hope also comes in waves. The heart does heal. Memories give life. And we learn to live again.

God’s promises to heal our broken hearts is seen in the following story…

My friend recently wrote this beautiful depiction of how healing and hope have visited his heart. With his permission, I’m sharing it for all my friends and people I serve who are currently in the healing process:

Yesterday morning I received a text message from [my wife] asking if I was ok… I was totally confused and so I asked her why she was asking if I was ok. She then reminded me that it was the anniversary of my my dads going on with the Lord.

You know that for the first time since his passing I actually felt PEACE. It is a sign that healing has taken root in my life.

Of course I remembered him on Friday when I heard of the loss of a childhood friend and I began to feel the pains again of the moment I saw him take his last breath but… yesterday… when I was reminded of his passing… I actually had a day free of tears but then just smiled and thanked God for giving me peace at last.

Some people heal faster than others and remember to give those in their process plenty of love and support.

When Popular Messages Leave Us Feeling Empty

Many of the messages that I hear in certain church settings are based on “getting your best life” or “fulfilling your purpose/potential/call”. I think we have purpose, potential, and a call. Yet why do they seem to leave me feeling empty? I’ve reached some potential/call/purpose, but it’s not as satisfying as I thought it would be.

“This is your season” messages may not leave room for losses so the message is preached yet again for a lifetime, like a constant loop (i.e. “It’s your season…”, “A season of favor is upon you…”, “you’ll reach the nations…”) .

There will come a time when Jesus will have to be enough.
There will come a time when deep intimacy with Jesus, self, and others is more than enough.

Contentment with our current state is a good spiritual discipline to cultivate in our hearts.  What’s also helpful is grieving losses as part of the life cycle.

As we grieve losses, we can trust that God will resurrect new ways of being that are more commiserate to our stage of life/faith. We may have to practice more contentment or forgiveness; learn to give rather than receive; learn to be fully present to God/self/others and not just our wants/needs.