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Tears to joy

"... weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30.5

"Penthos" is a Greek word referring to the gift of tears. Those of us schooled in the necessity of keeping a stiff upper lip will struggle here! Weeping does not come naturally; indeed, it is considered weak. But not in scripture and not in church tradition, where tears are embraced for the way they unlock the power of our emotions. From Jesus to Paul, from David to Jeremiah, the giants of faith all appreciated and practiced "penthos": the gift of tears.

Such weeping is not trivial, for it ushers us into the depths of evil, injustice and suffering. Without it we risk becoming trivial people, skimming the surface of the human condition and in denial of the harsher realities of life. With the stakes so high, where do we start?

With an appreciation of "original sin". Original sin is the diagnosis that explains the brokenness of creation. It is not so much about specific things that we have done wrong as much as a disease of the heart, turning us away from the Creator and against one another. The significance of the cross is that Jesus willingly absorbed original sin and gave his perfect life in absolution - to break sin's power and restore our relationships with one another and with God. It is Jesus' empathy with the human condition and his willingness to redeem it that changes everything and provides the only legitimate basis for rejoicing.

Because of Jesus our lament, though necessary because suffering and brokenness will continue until he returns, must nevertheless lead to joy, because his return is sure and the redemption he brings will be complete: the final judgment on evil and the renewal of creation. Hallelujah!



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