From “Big Girls Don’t Cry” to “There’s no crying in baseball!”, crying has been a sign of weakness for generations. Bullies have sought to make younger kids cry forever, and “taking it like a man” has meant with an utter lack of tears. Funerals often got a pass and became one of the only places men could cry openly, but even then it was a slight trickle rather than an outright sob. Crying has been socially forbidden in many world cultures.
This has always seemed to me to be yet another cultural abnormality, a means of showing our power by withholding from something truly wonderful. For tears are the means of healing in so many ways. I have heard them called “the only true cleanse of the soul” and “liquid anger released”. No one who has felt the pains this world can bring and has wept for real can deny that they feel significantly better having done it. And the harder the cry, the better we feel. Jesus wept in sorrow and fear, as did the prophets before Him, so it seems very odd to refrain from it.
Jeremiah is known as “the weeping prophet”, and we begin to see shades of it in today’s reading. Chapter 9 is filled with calls to weep, wail, and cry for God’s lost – meaning here “sinful” – people. That people who have been promised so much and wooed into as powerful a relationship as God’s would walk away from it and follow worthless idols is cause for much weeping. While this may not heal the world’s ills or bring the lost back to the Lord, it does cleanse us, release some of our anger toward them, and move us to a place of being healers ourselves.
So look at our world, from our political leadership to the divisiveness and xenophobia that has this entire globe in its grip, and weep, wail, and cry. God is.