Event #1: It happened again in church last Sunday. We were singing a praise song; I don’t even remember which one. Perhaps we were in the midst of celebrating God’s love. And suddenly tears were stinging my eyes.
Event #2: Not long ago I read the novel, Evidence of Mercy by Terri Blackstock. One of the characters says: “With each trial we get stronger and purer. And [God] sees more of his reflection in us” (p. 245). I had recently come through a trial, and the thought that God might see more of his reflection in me as a result of that experience, filled me with overwhelming emotion. Tears welled up.
Event #3: One morning Steve felt compelled to pray over me, and you guessed it, the tears came again.
Why do events such as these cause me to cry? I wasn’t sad; no bad news had been shared. Neither was I ecstatic over emotionally charged good news–like a baby or wedding announcement from a loved one. And I certainly wasn’t looking to cry. It was just a spontaneous reaction.
What might those tears mean? Are they important or just a quirky phenomenon?
Curiosity sent me researching.
Crying for joy, it turns out, seems to be related to feelings of attachment for someone or something.
Think of a child lost in a museum. Her parents were nearby just a moment ago as she worked an interactive exhibit. Now they’re gone. Quickly she weaves through the area, looking right and left. Her heart pounds crazily in her chest; her mind is filled with fear. After a few long moments she spots them, almost hidden behind a display. She dashes to their side; Dad turns, smiles, and welcomes her with open arms. The child bursts into tears out of relief and joy.
Could it be relief and joy that cause spontaneous tears when…
…I’m listening to or singing praise music and my heart fills with adoration for God?
…I read a scripture or even a passage in another book, and it’s as if God is speaking directly to me about a current need?
…I recognize his hand at work in my life, and my heart overflows with gratitude?
The flood of emotion that occurs during such circumstances is surely based in the loving attachment between my Heavenly Father and me. I am one of his beloved, adopted daughters—not because of anything I’ve done, but because he loved me before I was even born. He has guided, provided for, protected, and disciplined me over a lifetime.
Crying for joy can also occur when a person’s system shifts from status quo to recalibration and recovery.
That makes sense, too. How often have I…
…come to church after a stressful week, in need of just that—recalibration and recovery? Often the praise music generates tears as those processes begin.
…read a scripture or other text that recalibrates my thinking and/or emotions, and out of relief, tears prickle my eyes?
…been concerned over a matter, and then God steps in, engineers circumstances to alleviate the matter, and again, I cry with relief and joy that he took control?
So it is the loving attachment I experience with my Heavenly Father, coupled with overwhelming joy, that cause a flood of emotion. That flood then overflows as tears. In addition, moments of recalibration and recovery in my spirit can cause me to cry.
And why would that be important to understand?
So that I can respond all the more gratefully in worship.
* * * * * * * * * *
What an incredible privilege you have given us, Father–to be attached to you as your children. Thank you for coming so near we can feel your touch, recalibrating our spirits with encouragement, truth, wisdom, and love. And thank you for the gift of joyful tears that express our hearts where words fail.
(Photo credit: www.homeopathyplus.com.au.)