The old lumberjack always strode with a purpose. But not today. Today the world clawed at his soul. As the gruff Swedish immigrant trudged up the hill to his family farm, tears rolled down his cheeks. The date was December 7, 1941, and Axel Gustafson had just heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. His sons would be going to war.

My dad was one of those sons. He never forgot the tears of his outdoorsman father. He learned that men with true strength cry too.

King David cut the mold for ruggedness. As a youth he’d killed a lion, a bear, and then of course Goliath—and no, he didn’t use a rifle to do it. He would become the man of whom Israelite women sang, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). Yet, as the warrior poet, David also displayed an artistic side. In 1 Samuel 20 we read the bittersweet story of David and Jonathan’s friendship. When it became clear that Jonathan’s father King Saul intended to kill David (1 Samuel 20:30-33), the two had an emotional farewell. “Both of them were in tears” (1 Samuel 20:41).

It’s not only a male trait to suppress tears. Women can also cling to stoicism. “I don’t cry,” a female friend told me. Yet the pain in her life was obvious to anyone who knew her.

The ultimate example of a man with true strength was Jesus. He cried over Jerusalem because it would reject Him (Luke 19:41). He cried at the grave of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35). He endured such emotional turmoil the night before His crucifixion that “his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). Jesus freely showed His emotions.

Our emotions are a gift. They reflect the image of a God who gets angry at evil, and who loves us with all His heart.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Kings 3:16-28