Growing up as a boy, the most embarrassing thing to have happen was for someone to see you cry. Many boys are taught that it is wrong to cry, or that they are sissies if they do so. Nevertheless, crying is a part of the emotional spectrum that is found in each of us. While, unlike mommies, we do not cry at everything that comes down the pike, there are things that affect us (or at least most of us) so deeply as fathers that it brings tears to the eyes as it tears at our hearts. Let me tell you some of the things that make daddies cry.
Daddies cry when they lose a child. A daddy’s job is to protect and watch over his child and there is nothing that affects a true father more than the helplessness of losing a child; especially when there is knowledge that nothing you could have done would change the outcome. My wife and I have had two miscarriages; with each of them there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the situation. However, already having one son, the emotional toll of not being able to keep safe one of my children brought many tears to my eyes. I cannot imagine, and I pray I never find out in reality, the levels of anguish that goes through a father’s heart when a child he has taught, loved, and for which he has provided leaves this life.
Daddies cry when they see acts of great courage. There are two avenues in this area that often bring tears to the eyes of fathers. One is when we see other fathers act courageously to protect or defend their children. It brings home to us our responsibility and the equal desire we have to do the same for our children. The other area is when we see that courage exhibited in one of our children. The ability to overcome great obstacles, to truly and thoroughly devote themselves to great tasks, to bring out the best in themselves and others with their examples causes tears of thankfulness and pride in them for utilizing what they have been taught in such great ways.
Daddies cry when they fail. Sometimes the failures are perceived and not actual; but for any father who takes his responsibilities to provide for his family and raise his children in the principles of God’s Word seriously, there is nothing more emotionally challenging than the feeling that you have failed in some aspect of your responsibilities. On more than one occasion I have been brought to tears at the recognition of shortcomings in my life in these areas; and I have been present on occasions when other fathers have fallen into tears for the very same reasons. When we take our job seriously the feelings of failure affect us tremendously.
So, what’s the point? Daddies cry, big deal, right? Consider who we are. Mankind is the creation of God, created in his image, with his likeness and range of emotion. We also find our God being described in the terms of masculinity, which I believe follows through to the way we are made as men: with a strong hand before us, great responsibilities, and great expectations on our shoulders.
I am also convinced that we see in the Scriptures the same levels of emotion in God that we see in fathers today. No, God is not physical in that he sheds tears as we do, but he bears the same emotions that would bring tears to his eyes if he were.
In Genesis 6, when all of the people of the world except one have turned away from him, Scripture says that it “repented” God that he had ever made man. The word translated “repented” means to make sorry, to bring sorrow, to change the mind, or to comfort. While there are many instances where this word is used mainly to show a change of mind, there are also some instances which show anguish at the actions of another. This is one of those times for God. He created these people, looked out for them, cared for them, and they turned from him and everything he had given them.
In First Samuel 15, Saul’s refusal to do God’s will caused God to tell Saul that he was going to be replacing him as king and that he would not “repent” (change his mind) from that choice (Vs. 29). Nevertheless, in the final verse of the chapter it states that it repented the Lord that he had ever made Saul king. Saul was God’s hand-picked choice to be captain over Israel, and he had gone from a man of humility and trust in God to a rebellious king who brazenly rebelled against him because of the fear of others; and it made God sorrowful.
I also believe you see the emotions of God exhibited when Jesus was on the cross. As there is darkness across the land while the Lord is on the cross, I believe we see the emotions of God being exhibited before man. There is sorrow at all that Jesus has to bear, and at the fact that nothing will ever be the same in the relationship between the Father and the Son again (a full discussion of this principle from Scripture should be left for another time).
We see in the emotions of earthly fathers the mirror of the emotions of God; and it is interesting to see that what makes many fathers cry are the exact same things that bring those strong emotions to the forefront with our Father in Heaven. Understanding this should help us understand God better; and it should also cause us to love him more and serve him with greater zeal.