Weep with Those Who Weep

Can you imagine what it would be like to be at your lowest moment and have someone safe enough to share your deepest hurts, doubts, and fears and have them listen carefully to hear your heart and hold your emotions soothingly and safely without the need to minimize your pain, fix your thinking, or even rush you through the struggle? They are simply fully present with you, sharing your pain, and occasionally offer a question or observation that will help magnify Jesus’s presence with you.

I don’t have to imagine. I’ve been fortunate to have people attuned to God’s heart and available to mine throughout my life. It is the rarest of gifts, to be sure, and a significant component in my life-long passion for knowing Jesus and walking with him. Father wants people like that covering the planet.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about not burying our emotional pain but waiting until Jesus carves a way through it for us and how a friend can be helpful. When you learn to embrace God from inside your pain, you’ll be better equipped to hold others inside of theirs. I’ll admit it’s not easy to do; our pain-detection and avoidance systems kick in with hardly a thought whenever we or someone near us chokes up with tears. “Danger! Danger! Must stop tears!”

Almost everyone tries to stop them by apologizing or switching the subject as if tearing up is supposed to be embarrassing. How tragic! Uncontrolled tears are almost always evidence of where God’s Spirit is working in our hearts. It shows us the most sacred space where grief and pain dwell, and Father is working to win us into trust. If we run from our tears, we may well miss him, and avoiding the tears of others will leave them in the dark as well.

Most of us have always been better at “rejoicing with those who rejoice” rather than sincerely “weeping with those who weep.” We’re called to do both,

But once our pain avoidance system kicks in, we say the silliest things to people that deepen their pain rather than hold their hearts—

  • “Just trust Jesus; he will take care of it.”
  • “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”
  • “But they are in a better place, aren’t they?”
  • “Cheer up! Jesus already has the victory.”
  • “Just forgive, and it won’t bother you anymore.”
  • “Are you still struggling with that? It happened so long ago?”

While some of those things may be true, presented in the context of raw pain, they will make people feel dismissed and more alone than ever. I don’t think our pain-avoidance systems are mean-spirited; they result from some specific weaknesses in our approach to pain. First, most people barely survive their own challenges and do not have the resources to carry someone else’s. Second, those in pain make us uncomfortable because they expose our doubts and questions about God’s love for us. Finally, Christianity today is geared toward procuring victory and blessings more than it is about how the glory of God is revealed in brokenness and sorrow.

Most people comfort someone briefly and tie it off with a quick Scripture or a pat answer, often concluding with the ubiquitous, “I’ll be praying for you.” And then they forget. That’s why people in pain often feel like a burden to their friends and end up isolating themselves as they are drawn more deeply into crisis. At least when Job’s friends heard about all his troubles, they came and wept with him in the dust for seven days before any of them said a word. What an amazing gift of presence! But then, they couldn’t keep silent anymore and piled on their false theology that only added to Job’s crisis.

Becoming a safe place for people in pain is a work of the Spirit through the troubles and hurts of your own life. You learn compassion when you are the victim of other people’s meanness. You learn authenticity by being gaslit and ghosted by people you care about. And you learn how to be present for others by what you wanted most when you suffered. Ninety percent of ministry is simply being there with A Caring Heart and a Listening Ear, as my friend Joni from Edmund termed it in a podcast we did recently.

You don’t have to start a ministry, hang out a shingle, or run an ad on Next Door. Just be aware of the people around you during your day. When you see someone hurting, let Jesus lead you on how to make yourself available. It can be as simple as “You look like you could use a friend.” Or, “If you ever need someone to talk to, please let me know,” You might invite them to lunch or over for coffee. You’re inviting them as you make your heart available, not imposing yourself on them. Be gentle, aware, and gracious, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to share his love in the world.

And don’t worry about having all the answers they might need. You’re better off holding people’s pain when you don’t have the answers and not trying to fix them. You only need to provide space where God can reveal himself and draw them into his light and freedom.

Coming alongside a broken heart or an oppressed spirit is as close to the Gospel as it gets. He came to bind up the brokenhearted and free the oppressed. You’re closest to the kingdom when you’re with people like that.


I’m sorry we’ve not had another trauma conversation recently or the next meeting of the Jake Colsen Book Club. We are a bit buried in the process of refurbishing and moving into our next home, taking some time to be with friends, and our schedule is not too predictable these days. We will get back to those in a few weeks and let you know here when we start those up again. We appreciate your patience during this season of nesting in a new place where we can share our love with each other and with all of you.

14 thoughts on “Weep with Those Who Weep”

  1. Pingback: Weep with Those Who Weep | Lifestream – The Faith Herald

  2. Physiologically when we cry toxins are removed from our bodies. Getting dust in your eye will cause tearing up to take place but there won’t be toxins. God knows what He’s doing.

  3. I have found out from my own experience that people do not want to hear about my troubles. It’s okay if it’s about physical pain but if it’s about emotional pain People shut down quickly and your right it so very painful! It is another wound on top of the old ones. In order to cope I keep the hurts inside and put on my false front and pretend I’m fine-that way I’m accepted and I desperately need that because I was rejected by both parents. Now that is too hard to pretend I’m fine. It take too much energy and leaves me exhausted. So I avoid socialization with anyone. I learned to cope as a small child by dissociation and becoming what others wanted. Now i I see how that has harmed me. I am learning how to open my heart to God and let Him in even if it’s a tiny bit. I feel his touch and He is bringing healing slowly and ever so gently. Thank you Wayne for you books that tell me who Jesus really is! I didn’t learn any of that in church. I thought he was a harsh judge who wanted me to pull up my boot straps and get past my past. And for 35 years I tried as hard as I could until there wasn’t anything left to give. The Shack was the first book I read of yours and it touched my heart deeply! I began to learn how to trust God even if it was just a small amount. Trusting in anyone especially God is hard.

    Thank you Wayne from the bottom of my heart!

    1. I’m so sorry you have no one to share this space with. This is why I wrote this piece so people will learn how to do it with others. I do love that you have gone on with your journey into freedom even still. He is enough when there’s no one else to carry it with you. I do pray though that god provides someone who will provide him a body to love you through as well.

  4. I appreciated this post. I am a widow after 37 years of marriage to a godly man. He has been with the Lord for 5.5 years now. I took lGrief Share” counseling and it helped me so much. I’ve, since then, attended Biblical Counseling classes to date. Agreeing with you that when Jobs friends sat and said nothing, their “presence alone” was all he needed. 🙏

  5. I appreciate you and your very common sense teaching. He is close to the broken hearted.
    When humans fail me i know he is there.

  6. Spot ON, Wayne. In my ministry of spiritual direction, I aim for being the kind of friend you have described. And on this day I’m feeling in need of just such a friend. Thank you.

  7. What is the best kind of therapist to look for when one suspects they are suffering from repressed childhood trauma?

  8. Hi Wayne, thanks so much for those words ” weeping with those who weep”…so true…there’s the “rich people” way of weeping with others”and the “poor way of weeping with others”..the rich arrives to “show himself” and try to ” give you what “he” thinks you need , and maybe, he’s right, but he didn’t “listen” properly, ..(I’m afraid I’m a bit like that sometimes- I try to change..).actually, if you have suffured yourself, you remember what you needed most…just some one on your side being there at the right time, at the right place, a shoulder to learn on while weeping, who understands because he went through it himself, he made the “same experience, no words needed…and, actually, I’ve never met somebody like Jesus who, by His sufferings on the cross, who would be able to understand me…you’re alone with your pains and joys, and in a way, He is The only One who “Knows”me from the bottom of His heart…others just “know things about me” ..this is not the same.Sometimes, words to express your sufferings just don’t exist; it’s beyond words.He is “inside me”; the others are “outside me”…He feels what I feel…so, in a way,if Jesus has chosen to suffer, it’s also because of what I am suffering; he is suffering it a the same time..when people drop me down and leave me alone because nobody likes suffering (it reminds us we’re mortal) it happens to God.too…”you’ll all leave me alone…but, no, I’m not alone, Father is there” says Jesus….why? Because Father is the only One Who “Knows” His Son …Peter said when He was asked” I know you, you’re with Him” and Peter said “No, I don’t Know Him” Actually, that was right..he didn’t “know” Him…

  9. Such rarely spoken truth with great compassion
    Thank you from Australia your message has reached us and is both timely and full of the love our Lord would speak to us so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  10. Rev Wm Blake Rider

    Good afternoon Wayne, and may you have a blessed Palm Sunday. I just shared this post with the pastoral care ministry at the parish where I am the Interim Rector in Huntsville, TX. Your reflection is a great affirmation of the pastoral care work they are doing (based on the Rule of St Benedict). My heart fluttered as I told them that I knew you when we were 18-22 years old – and that I knew you as a fine human being then. Wonderful memories. Your ministries are a blessing to many. Looks like you have done exactly what Oral told us that God wanted – that his students would to new places and do new things. – Blake Rider

    1. Hi Blake. Thanks for your comment. I’m truly blessed to have all the relationships I do in the world, many like yours dating back almost fifty years. Wow. And though God has led us down different paths I’m grateful he draws both of us ever-closer to the wonder of his Lordship and the beauty of his compassion for the world. Much love and blessings!

  11. Cindy Gerstmyer

    Thank you for this post. Sooo many great points and insight. I used to always try to FIX someone in pain and I should have known better, because I know how it feels when people do that to me. I love it when a very simple, short phrase in the Word contains such profound truth!

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