The Value of Tears

John 11:1-6, 32-35 | Sermon Resources | 28 May 2023


Every one of us has lives that are filled with tragedy. Every human being is touched by loss and pain. There are some who think that a high view of the sovereignty of God must require us to believe in an ascetic God – one without any desire who ignores or reprimands emotions – or even a sadistic God – cruel, vicious, and unloving. For how could a God who ordains everything that comes to pass make suffering a part of that plan? If God is all powerful, then he must not be all good. Others, in order to help God out, have said that God is all good but must not be all powerful. They might say that God is in an eternal struggle with Satan. But neither of these perspectives are biblical truth. God is sovereign over suffering. Today’s passage marks the truth of God’s sovereignty over suffering in neon colors when Jesus intentionally stays 2 days longer in the place where he was and only travels to Bethany after Lazarus’s death.

However, God’s sovereignty is balanced with compassion. When tragedy strikes, often our carefully constructed beliefs disappear and something more visceral, more deep and hidden, materializes. What is most dear to you? See what comes out in a crisis, in a tragedy. And ask yourself, “Why did this affect me so much? Why was I so angry?” Until and unless we access our emotions and ask God to reveal why they are there, we cannot experience God’s healing. As we express these emotions, including anger, to God, and ask Him to align our desires with His, blessing can occur. God has not abandoned us, but has come near in Christ – near enough to shed tears.

I want to acknowledge my borrowing heavily from Pastor Larry Bolden’s sermon Blessed are Those who Mourn.

Discussion Questions

  1. What struck you most from the sermon?
  2. Do you agree that our culture has a difficult time with mourning and processing emotions? How can emotions help uncover our idols and deep desires?
  3. Why is it difficult to reconcile God’s power and love in the face of suffering? What has helped you to get through suffering?
  4. Arthur Pink wrote, “Here were the souls upon which rested the weight of the dark shadow of death, and they were souls which Jesus loved, and He felt it.” What value do Jesus’s tears bring?
  5. The Psalms are brutally honesty with the dark feelings of the soul. How do they model appropriate anger and other strong emotions? See for example, Psalms 22, 44, 74, and 88.
  6. Larry Bolden says, “Your physical, spiritual, and emotional health is directly related to your capacity to properly mourn the losses of your life and experience the comfort of God.” Share a time you have mourned and experienced the comfort of God.
  7. “It is not mere doctrine or theology that changes us, but doctrine enfleshed.” See 2 Corinthians 3:3. Share about someone who lived out the gospel before you.

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