Editor’s note: At the end of each month, the editorial team shares a brief wrap-up of how that month’s content encouraged and challenged us. This month, Laura Way wrote how the article “Praise That Survives Tears” helped her remember that knowing Jesus is even better than having an easy and comfortable life. As we honestly come to him with our sorrows and suffering, we know him, are made like him, and will one day be with him forever.
“It Is Really Sad Sometimes”
My 8-year-old daughter feels things intensely. There have been times, earlier on in the pandemic for instance, when she needed to cry, wail even, over the level of suffering she perceives occurs in the world. (There are other times when she wails over other things she perceives as suffering, like needing to leave a friend’s house, but that’s for a different article.)
My first instinct is not to join in the lament with her. Though I’m naturally an intense feeler also, I grew to believe that a Christian was supposed to “have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” Unfortunately, I also came to believe that joy in my heart meant having a permanent smile on my face so that everyone could perceive how good God is to me (as if he needs me on his PR team).
I’ve been learning, in adulthood, that I can be honest with God. And so I try to be honest with my daughter: “God’s good world was broken by sin. And it is really sad sometimes.”
In “Praise That Survives Tears: Psalm 8,” Wang Fuyong describes the disorienting realization of the vast distance between how the Bible depicts the world is supposed to be and how we experience it. He teaches that Psalm 8, which is placed after a series of laments, acknowledges the cries of the weak. He reminds us that our Savior came as a weak baby and grew into a suffering Savior. God often works through weak, unexpected, and yes, painful ways.
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The psalmist wants to remind us that it’s actually through these unexpected (sometimes uncomfortable) means that God receives glory – just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, God’s “power is made perfect in weakness.”
Jesus: With Us In Our Tears
This is not intuitive. At least not to me, and certainly not to my 8-year-old who often says aloud what I secretly think in times of trouble: “Why me?”
Wang Fuyong reminded me in his article to teach my daughter how to walk through tears, weakness, and suffering the same way I began learning to walk through tears (instead of simply drowning in them): looking to Jesus.
“…Jesus, like many other little children, was chased and bullied by this world. He identified with these infants, and his coming gives meaning to the death and weeping of all who are hunted down and killed by this world. . .We believe in a God who will be with us in times of weakness, darkness, and loss. This is a God who understands the taste of our sorrow and our weakness.”
Jesus, who embraced weakness, didn’t cling to comfort or power, and entered into human suffering, really is with us in our tears. So when we “nakedly come before God and face reality,” we get Jesus. Jesus, whose presence brings us fullness of joy. Not the kind of “joy” that manufactures fake smiles to make Jesus look good. Communing with Jesus, especially through tears and suffering, brings the kind of joy that gives us strength.
“The believer is not in denial of darkness, but touches it, because the darkness itself is potentially life-building material. . . so that they may put on Christ: for the praise that has survived tears is the true blessing of life.”
There’s actually something better in this life than the fantasy we have of everything going well, and having comfort, power, or wealth all of our days. Better, far better, is to truly know and be known by Jesus.
Learning from Jesus how to handle tears also reminds us of our great hope. Our Savior, who suffered greatly on this earth, is now risen and seated with the Father on high. We follow him in taking up our crosses, yes, and we follow him to glory.
Wang Fuyong reminds us that as we experience God, our faith actually grows: “Psalm 8 promises at the end…this world will ultimately bow at [God’s] feet, and utter from the heart: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Amen and hallelujah!
Laura Way lives in Orlando, FL with her two vibrant, young daughters and her wise and witty husband, Aubrey. She works for thirdmill.org where she’s a part of a team pursuing Biblical Education. For the World. For Free.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for Christians everywhere to truly believe that God’s power is made perfect in weakness.