Summary: Jesus calls us to a Ministry of Compassion. (To replace the Sermon which vanished from this site a few weeks ago!)
Some years ago a friend of mine went forward at a Meeting for the laying on of hands for Baptism in the Spirit. That evening God touched her very powerfully but not in a way that she had expected. What happened was HER NOSE STOPPED RUNNING!
Let me explain:
For years she had been plagued with a runny nose. Ever since she was a child she had had a runny nose - she went through handkerchieves and tissues like nobody’s business. But that night, as she returned home from the Meeting, she started to cry. She went to bed crying - when she woke in the morning she started crying again - she went on crying for days and days, and then she stopped - and when the crying stopped here nose stopped running!
Later she told us, "I was brought up in a household where tears were never allowed. My Mum and Dad always told me "BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY" - and if I did cry I was laughed at......... I suppose I just bottled it up.................. and I suppose that the runny nose was the way my tears found their way out of me. All I know is that, when hands were laid on me for the Baptism in the Spirit, nothing really startling happened - except that, for the first time inside, I felt warm and wanted......... I felt I could be myself......... and as I came home I realised that MYSELF wanted to cry - so I did................. and no-one stopped me......... no-one said it was wrong............... that was a real relief LITERALLY.
Sigmund Freud once said, "At times the things our consciences tell us is wrong is actually just a repetition of what our parents taught us, or what the world around us said when we were children......". Well, whether that is true or not, what is true is that we British for many years found it very hard to deal with tears.
I’ve been to lots of funerals where people speak with admiration of widows who don’t cry: "Wasn’t she brave" they say, probably quite thankful that they have been spared the task of finding something to say about her tears.
It’s different in many places in the world. I still remember the SHEER ABANDON of widows in Israel after the 6 day war in 1967 - what a contrast to an English funeral.
I once visited a widow who had lost her husband, and she didn’t shed a tear - I visited her 6 months later when her pet dog died, and found her crying her eyes out. Why is it OK for the English to cry over their pets, but not over their husbands?
What’s happening in situations like this? I think the honest truth is that we are AFRAID to be seen as we are - afraid of what we call ’EMOTIONALISM’..... afraid of the things deeply buried inside ourselves which, we think would overwhelm others if we really let them go........ so we lock up our emotions, not realising that, if we do, they find another way of getting out, not just in runny noses, but in lots of other ways too..... things which come up from inside us and we don’t understand why we’re acting that way.
I wonder if some of the so-called NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS which people experience (sometimes even happening after they have had prayer for healing!), are actually BREAKTHROUGHS, reality breaking through............. and when that person has worked through it and come to a new stability, they can examine what happened, they will then see that God has actually let this happen so that they are no longer bound by the prison their past life has placed around them....................
and that, though a nervous breakdown is often a sign of failure in the eyes of society..... it’s actually all right to be a failure.
I do realise, of course, that some people use tears for blackmail or self-pity. I also recognise that, in the case of severe depressive illness, excessive crying can be dangerous, so that we have to lead that person away from looking at SELF TO SEE WHAT GOD HAS ALREADY DONE.
LETS MOVE ON!
Not only is it therapeutic ( HEALING) to shed tears for our own pain, it can be wonderfully healing to shed tears for another person’s pain.
I remember sitting in the Counselling Room with a girl who had a terrible self-image.
At the age of 30 or more she felt abandoned by life - alone, lost, no-one to love her, her life’s story poured out. As I listened I found myself weighed down with a terrible feeling of loss - her loss. I wanted to speak words of comfort to her, but nothing would come out.
As I listened to her the second time and then the third, I found myself praying - "Lord show her that you love her and accept her. Show her that she’s not alone. Give me the words to speak to comfort her"........... but no words would come.