“It is such a secret place, the land of tears”.

-Antoine de St.-Exupery

It is a holy thing to be invited into the lives who weep.

I was talking to a friend the other day whose wife is stricken with cancer. The outlook is ominous, and while we hope for God’s intervention, her  husband is reconciled to losing her.  While he was sharing with me, I was struck with what a privilege it was to be able to share in this sorrow. There are not many things as personal, not many things so vulnerable as someone sharing their deep hurt with you. It is a tremendous statement of trust.

There is so much sadness in the world. People bear much of it alone; can we not help them with their burdens? To stand with those sidelined by life – though loss, incapacity, illness – is to insert God’s love into an otherwise unbearable hurt. When someone is devastated by a loss, what comfort that can be had is found when they see tears in your eyes too.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one anothers’ burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”. What is that law? Simply love, the nothing-in-it-for-me kind of love. The funny thing about this sort of love is that when you give it, it refreshes and builds up; there’s always “more where that came from”. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said of believers that streams of living waters would flow from within them – the love of Christ flows through us. I imagine we are not so much a source, but as a conduit for God to pour out His agape love through us as we choose acts of love through obedience. And I think it gets easier: as we let it flow more often, that much more will be poured into us. But to choose to give the love in the first place: that is the discipline, that is the choice to live as a  disciple. We need to open the tap. And that means opening ourselves up to hurt alongside others. For make no mistake: it is an invitation to be hurt, to be wounded with them. And it is one of the holiest places in all the world.

We are to “do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).  While this verse centres  first on our fellow Christians, note that it also includes the rest of humanity. We are “kings and priests” (Rev 5:10) and “ambassadors”  (2 Cor 5:20). Priests are those who intercede, who stand before God representing the supplicants, and to represent God to them. And that is what we are: we are to talk to God on behalf of  this lost world, carrying their concerns and needs to God, and returning from there with a divine deposit to be placed in the world: God’s grace. We’re supposed to be salt, to make the world just a little less sad. To weep with the sad, speak against injustice, to feed and clothe and teach and love and share the Good News that our broken hearts can be mended.