I would not consider myself a person who cries a lot. Only in times of great loss and sorrow will I shed tears. That’s just how I have always been. Actually, my husband and I joke that he cries more than I do. So, a couple of months postpartum, when I was uncontrollably sobbing and I wasn’t even sure why, I knew something serious was up. How do I describe my experience? When I had my impacted wisdom teeth removed, the doctor used nitrous oxide for anesthesia; it is also known as “laughing gas.” I was pretty proud of myself for not even giggling the first few minutes of breathing it in, but as soon as the nurse asked me how I was doing, I felt like that was the most hilarious thing I’d ever heard and burst out hee-hawing. The crying I experienced was kind of like that, except instead of laughing, I was bawling. It burst forth and I had no control over it. Sometimes, I would hardly be able to take care of my children. I would put my newborn son on the floor and my toddler in a safe place and sob for an hour.
Question #9 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale asks the mother the general amount of time spent crying because of feeling so unhappy. This question immediately raised guilty feelings in me. The following thoughts entered my mind…
- I have a healthy baby so I have no excuse to be unhappy or sad.
- People keep telling me to enjoy this stage of life because “it doesn’t last long.” Therefore, my crying is wasting this precious time!
- Look at other mothers! They seem to be doing so well and are happy with their new babies.
- Is this going to be what my life looks like as a mom?
- How can I even think of crying when I’ve eagerly looked forward to having this child?
- I’m so ungrateful.
- I am a horrible person.
If you have any of these thoughts, please share them with someone you trust. It is such a heavy weight to keep these thoughts to yourself. Trust me, you are not alone. There are many other mothers out there who feel how you do, but hardly ever talk about their true feelings/thoughts. To be able to share your rawest feelings with other understanding women can offer such a relief and to know that you are not alone in your battle can be one of the greatest sources of strength to help you get through dark times. This was certainly the case for me.
Despite getting great support from loved ones and friends, I still often felt alone. This is why it was so important for me to remind myself of truth from the Bible: I will never be completely alone. I had to constantly remind myself that God is always present with me and knows my deepest feelings (Romans 8:26) even before I do. These truths, along with support from others, encouraged me to trust in God when I was experiencing feelings of great unhappiness and bouts of crying. If you are struggling in a similar way, I hope that you will be reassured through the Bible’s word to trust in God’s omniscience and be reminded that you don’t have to bear the burden alone.
Luke 6:21 says “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Matthew Henry’s commentary on chapter 6 of Luke’s gospel helped me better understand this verse. He explained to those suffering that they are blessed by God: “your present sorrows are no prejudices to your future joy, but preparatories for it: You shall laugh.” God promises us that our present sorrow will not last forever. Psalm 30:5 assures that “Weeping may tarry for the night but joy comes with the morning.” I knew that my spells of crying would eventually end and I eagerly looked forward to the day when I was on the other side of my PPD season. Every new morning offered mercies afresh for me and was one step closer to my trial ending.
However, what if my earthly life is just hardship after hardship? What if my crying lasts my entire life? Ultimately, I have heaven to look forward to when God himself “will wipe away every tear from [my] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelations 21:4). I will become like the captive ones from Zion: though I sow in tears, I will return filled with laughter and shouting with joy (Psalm 126). I love imagining God wiping away the tears on my cheeks like I wipe the tears off of my own children’s faces. It is a tender moment and so comforting for them! As a believer, I am given this guarantee of being in the presence of Jesus Christ and Him being my all-in-all for all time.
What glorious promises! To think that I have a personal God who is so close to me that He wipes my tears away! When I die, I get to enjoy his glory forever where I will never again encounter any sadness, pain, or evil. And yet…
All of these verses hold out hope for when my crying comes to an end. What about comfort WHILE I’m crying? Psalm 56:8 says “You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” As I read this verse, a two thoughts came to mind.
- God hears every single one of my prayers. The ESV Study Bible comments on this verse “God keeps account of the tears of his faithful ones; He does not ignore their concerns.” Admittedly, whenever I have gone through trials, I will think something along the lines of “does God even hear me?! Doesn’t He know how difficult this is? Doesn’t he care?!” He does care. He cares infinitely more than I can ever conceive of Him caring. After all, didn’t He send His only Son to rescue me from my sins?
- God puts every tear in his bottle. The keeping of tears in a bottle, or “lachrymatory,” was an ancient custom to show love. The vials would be used sometimes as gifts from and to people mourning the loss of a loved one to show the extent of their sorrow. In Civil War times, women would bottle up their tears to show how much they missed their beloved once he returned home from fighting. This history lesson brought much more meaning to Psalm 56:8. I found it a comfort to know that God keeps track of every single tear I shed and has intimate knowledge of my suffering. He is always right there next to me collecting my tears. C. H. Spurgeon pointed out in his commentary that it wasn’t just any bottle, but God’s own bottle; “How exact His knowledge of us! How generous His estimation! How tender His regard!”
Not only do we have a close and tender God, we have Jesus who BECAME like us and experienced all the sorrows we experience (Isaiah 53). And John 11:35 reveals that “Jesus wept.” We have a triune God who comforts us in our crying and one who cries Himself.
Thank you Lord Jesus for leaving your place in heaven and putting on weak, human flesh to save us from our sins and to give us a way to pursue true joy even in the midst of the most difficult trials. You did not have to do that, but because of your great love for us, condescended to become like us so that you can comfort us.