“Yep,” I nod. I don’t remember seeing her. “I missed you,”
Her eyes fill with tears. “I just couldn’t do it today. Every time I go, I cry during worship. Why is that?” she whispers.
I know her story and it’s a tough one–she struggles with real hurt from a brutal childhood.
“Maybe it’s because Jesus wants to get into your sad places and heal them?”
“Maybe,” she says with a weak smile and drives off to the gym.
I understand where she’s at. Sometimes the gym and hot yoga is a little less intimidating than a room full of people when you lose your spit–when emotions bursts out from deep within your soul and you snort out years of backed up tears.
And for those of us who try to be strong ALL THE TIME, we take it to a new level.
I’ve been the girl who’s dropped to her feet and wept in abandon during worship. And yeah…it’s awkward after. Folks…Please ignore the mascara streaming down my cheeks and the tattoo on my head marked “FRAGILE.”
But, sometimes I couldn’t help myself–it was simply a spontaneous combustion of the Holy Spirit and my heart. So I let it rip.
Here is my much longer answer (than my driveway version) to my friend’s great question of “why do we cry in worship?”
Deep Sorrow and Anguish
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.” 1 Samuel 1:10
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.” Psalm 61:1
Sometimes, our circumstances overwhelm us. When death strikes and we lose a loved one, when dreams die, when infertility robs us of a dream. When financial burdens pound us or our children turn against us– the difficulties and challenges in our lives seem gi-freaking-enormous.
But when we turn to God, we know on an innate level that He is bigger than our pain. We know He will listen and that He won’t condemn us or pass blame. Instead, He looks at us with eyes of love and mercy. We trust that we can cry out to Him freely because He knows the desires of our hearts like no other. Praise and worship songs remind us that although we can’t see Him, we can sense the nearness of the Spirit and he is SO CLOSE.
When we surrender to worship we are submitting to God. We let go of trying to master and control our little world (and doing a really poor job of it) and instead praise the one who is truly managing it.
Worship prompts our spirits to cry out to the Father
If you think you are alone in wanting to let loose a torrent of tears, you aren’t. John 11:35 says “Jesus Wept.”
The scriptures suggest we were created to cry out when words are too tough to manage. The real question is what is triggering the pain behind the tears? Where do we need healing and prayer?
Sorrow and Repentance
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Cor. 7:10
Sometimes when we sing we are reminded of that thing we did the other day that was pretty jacked up. Maybe we need to make amends with our spouse, change a bad habit, or move in a different direction entirely. Worship reminds us of how loving God is and it also reminds us of how broken we are. Basically, it’s that whole “sin” thing and somehow singing to God shines a magnifying light on our yucky parts.
“Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” Psalm 100:2
Often my tears are simply because I am filled with joy. Think of the movie Footloose! Yep, that’s me whooping it up because I am alive and can still move! (Although my kids might disagree)
I have a loving Father in Heaven and it makes me want to sing and (gasp) sometimes even dance! When I reflect on my relationships and my life filled overflowing with blessings I am overwhelmed with God’s goodness.
So no matter why you cry at church, it’s ok. Come and cry and rest and just be.
Church is the one place you should feel safe. And if you don’t feel safe, then go find a place that allows you to be you.
Raw. Fragile. Loved.