In 2013 Dr. Ad Vingerhoets, a social and behavioral scientist from the Netherlands, wrote a book called Why Only Humans Weep. He’s one of only a few scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying why people cry. Vingerhoets states that “tears are of extreme relevance for human nature. We cry because we need other people.”
Lamentations 2 is part of a poem written during a painful and tearful time of need—need for other people and for God. It’s about the destruction of Jerusalem, the suffering and exile of its people, and God’s anger at their sin. The prophet said that He “brought unending sorrow and tears upon beautiful Jerusalem” (Lamentations 2:5). He went on to say, “I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken. My spirit is poured out in agony as I see the desperate plight of my people” (Lamentations 2:11).
Years later, a poet also wrote about tears and the exile of Israel, but in a new light. Psalm 126 says, “When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the Lord has done for them.’ . . . Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest” (Psalm 126:1-2,5-6).
Human suffering is all around us. On any given day we can read stories of profound suffering in the news. We can find it in every city. At times, it fills our own lives.
But our hope is in the same God who returned the exiles to Jerusalem. As John wrote, Jesus will someday “wipe every tear from [our] eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). That will be a new and glorious day.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Job 38:1-41
Read Lamentations 3:19-23 and consider the faithfulness of God, even during times of great suffering.
Is there something painful in your life right now? What hope do you have in the power of Jesus?