Summary: Go ahead, have a good cry if you need to. Then let your tears draw you close to others and to God.
There is a new trend in China’s changing culture, which I find very interesting. The trend is a Cry Bar and it’s spreading to several major Chinese cities. The first Cry Bar opened eight or nine years ago (2003) in the city of Nanjing with only a sofa, a few tables, and tissues – a lot of tissues. Today, the Cry Bar averages 10 customers a day, giving them a place where they can sit and cry for $6 an hour according to the AFP news service. The owner, Luo Jun, says he opened the bar when clients of his last business said they often wanted to cry but didn’t know when or where it would be appropriate to do so. (Elana Centor, Crying Bars New Trend in China’s Changing Culture, in her Funnybusiness weblog, August 17, 2009, @ funnybusiness.typepad.com/funnybusiness/2009/08; “Quick Takes,” World magazine, 7-31-04; www.PreachingToday.com)
A Cry Bar – it seems pretty silly, but is it really? This could be China’s answer to Prozac and expensive psycho-therapy. Let me tell you: $6 an hour is certainly a whole lot cheaper than the hundreds of dollars some people spend to cry in front of a professional counselor.
Though don’t knock that either, because a good cry is very therapeutic – worth every penny. In fact, a good cry is absolutely necessary for healing after a loss, and it is also very beneficial to our relationships and to our faith.
If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 50, Genesis 50, where we see the benefits of a good cry in the life of Joseph. Joseph’s father has just died, and Genesis 50, verse 1 says…
Genesis 50:1-3 Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. (NIV)
70 days is just two days shy of the normal mourning period for a pharaoh. So it seems that the Egyptians developed a tremendous amount of respect for Joseph and his father.
Genesis 50:4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. (NIV)
You see, after 70 days of mourning, Joseph is in no condition to see the Pharaoh himself. His face is unshaven, his eyes are bloodshot, and he looks terrible, so he asks pharaoh’s servants to give pharaoh a message. “Tell him…
Genesis 50:5-8 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’ ” Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.” So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. (NIV)
That’s quite a funeral procession. It includes all the dignitaries of Egypt and all of Jacob’s family.
Genesis 50:9-10 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company. When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. (NIV)
Now, Joseph is not just stifling a few sniffles here. He and his entourage are heaving great sobs and wails of grief. In fact, they are so overcome with grief they stop the funeral procession for seven days!
This is the first time Joseph has seen his home in 39 years. 39 years before this, at the age of 17, Joseph was sold as a slave and forced to leave his home. Now, at the age of 56, he returns home not to a happy family reunion, but to bury his father. No wonder he is so overcome with grief, so much so that the neighbors take notice.
Genesis 50:11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim [– i.e., the mourning of the Egyptians]. (NIV)
Genesis 50:12-14 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father. (NIV)