KEY SCRIPTURE Matthew 26:74-75
Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
RELEVANCE There is weeping and weeping bitterly. Some people in the Bible wept bitterly. But for what did they weep?
The cry of a torn heart is deeper, louder, and sometimes even silent as the pain rips through, repressing the voice. We read the Bible stories slowly to understand that indeed the characters were human, just like us. With some, it is clear that their sufferings burrowed deep, even to fracturing the bedrock of their inner being.
Our key scripture shows a most familiar scenario; of Peter's horrifying realisation that after his fearless speech earlier in verse 33 when responding to Jesus—a bold speech one could hear from a pulpit or halls of an old-fashioned parliament, "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended." he was not only offended but denied Christ most offensively. Peter wept bitterly in repentance. His heart was rent—torn in two by his betrayal of his dear friend and only Saviour.
I don't think there has been a Christian who has not wept similarly in repentance.
When people weep for the right reason, a cleansing occurs, and our pain is washed, creating an inexplicable detoxifying of the spirit. Though the haunting realities might remain, the heart is re-established.
The Bible says of Hannah, the Prophet Samuel's mother, "And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore." For many years, Hannah strongly desired to have children and couldn't. For the reason that He alone knows, the Lord extended her barrenness, and she had no way of knowing why. Like Peter, her cries were an extension of her legitimate and justifiable pain, and she shed her tears in righteousness.
Contrastingly, we look at Isaac's wild son Esau, who consumed his spiritual future yet blamed someone else. His tears were perfectly selfish, with no connection to God or righteousness. Hebrew 12:16-17 "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."
Esau wept bitterly through self-pity, and God did not listen. The basis of his tears was a far cry from the repentant and yearning hearts of Peter and Hannah. His tears were about restoring temporal desires. His repentance was human, not spiritual.
We cry bitterly for many reasons. Sometimes for ourselves as old memories revive, or for some current situations without answers. And we cry for others who might be going through troubles as we plead to our Lord on their behalf. The Lord hears and feels the pain of genuine prayers, and the answers remain His privilege alone. Jesus was crucified so we could weep in earnestness, but there is a gulf between Esau's cries of selfishness and Hannah's weeping questions, despite them both being for human outcomes. We must learn the difference, as God only answered Hannah's.
PRAYER Father, you know all my weepings, my cries of pain and joy. Please save me from the selfish wailings of Esau-type prayers and warn me if I'm nearing that gulf.
Photo by Kat J