How To Help An Enigmatic Crier


This is a picture of me crying.

There are three reasons I generally might cry:

  1.  I drink a lot of caffeine, and for some reason, when it wears off, I start yawning and tearing.
  2.  I’m now in allergy season, and my allergies give me watery eyes.
  3.  I’m sad.

Frequently I’ll have people asking me why I’m crying, and it’s admittedly a little embarrassing to have to explain why I’m tearing up.  (Usually 1 or 2)

I’m not the only enigmatic crier.

In John, chapter 11, we hear about the death of Lazarus.  Jesus arrives at the tomb several days late, and encounters a distraught Mary and Martha, as well as other Jews gathered there.   This is where we hear the shortest verse in the Bible:  “Jesus wept.”

But why was he crying?

Was it:

  1.  Because he missed Lazarus and was sorry he was dead.
  2.  Because he was sad at the lack of faith of the people gathered there.
  3.  Because he felt sorry for the grieving Mary and Martha.

People have made arguments for each possibility down through the ages.  Which one do you think?  My guess is #3, but there’s probably no way of knowing.  Just like me, Jesus has multiple reasons to shed tears.

And we’re not the only ones.  Crying isn’t always a straightforward activity. From time to time you will encounter someone who is sad or even tearing up and you may not know why.  What do you do?

You could:

  1. Politely ignore the tears and hope all is well
  2. Ask what’s wrong.

Those could both work.  My personal favorite, however, is…

3.  Hand them a tissue.

No matter the reason for the tears, passing a Kleenex seems to say “Whatever you’ve got going on, I care about you”.  It’s a direct, physical action that invites but doesn’t require further conversation.

I guess they didn’t have Kleenex in Jesus’ time, but if I’d been next to Lazarus’ grave when Jesus wept, I would like to think I would have offered him a sleeve to wipe his eyes on…

and maybe he’d have offered more than a two word explanation!

Have a great week,






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