We lost our beloved pet, Hartley, a sixteen-year-old, mixed breed dog. He was dearly loved and we miss him very much. His health had been deteriorating for some time, but we kept hoping he would improve. Eventually, it became evident it was time to say “good-bye” to him and make the necessary, but unwanted, appointment at the vets. My husband and I, and our son, were present with him at the end of his life as he slipped away peacefully. It hit us hard and many tears have been cried.
I tend to be the sort of person who does not show emotions in front of others. I will bottle up my tears and try to keep them hidden from anyone else, lest I appear to be a weak person. On the day after our dog died, as I was in floods of tears, God reminded me of the things He wasn’t saying to me.
He wasn’t saying, “Stop blubbering. Only babies cry. Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone. Big girls don’t cry. For goodness sake! Grow up. Don’t share your problems with anyone else. They’ve got enough of their own without yours. There’s lots of other people worse off than you (which is true, but unhelpful). Stop crying or else I’ll give you something to cry about”.
Maybe, like me, you had such things spoken to you when you were a child and you learned to bury your emotions rather than express them. The message you received was that it was wrong to let other people know how you are feeling. They are not interested, and feelings should be kept to yourself and not shared with anybody. Looking back now, as an adult, I realise my parents were extremely private about how they were feeling. Perhaps they longed to share their feelings with someone else, but they may have inherited a pattern of behaviour passed on to them by their parents.
Crying is nothing to be ashamed about. It is a perfectly normal part of the grieving process, even when it includes losing a much-loved pet. It’s normal to cry. God knows and He understands and, as today’s scripture verse reminds us, He holds all our tears in a bottle. We can freely and unashamedly release our tears to Him, because He alone is able to comfort us in any kind of distress. He understands exactly how we feel and delights when we draw near to Him with our sorrows. ‘The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ (Psalm 34:18).
So, we can come to Him in confidence, knowing He will never chastise us for being upset, tearful, or broken-hearted. As emotional pain is released to Him, healing does come, although not always immediately. We are to hold on, waiting patiently and trusting in God, who sent Jesus to die on the cross for each and every one of us, because of His great immeasurable love. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).
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