And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. Then he turned away from them and wept. And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. Genesis 42:22-24
The meaning of tears is often complicated. If someone pinned me down and asked me why Joseph cried in this scene, I couldn’t definitively say. There are probably many reasons. He heard his brothers discuss their sin against him in person. He loved them but was sad about their sin. He was grieved over the testing he was about to inflict. These are just three possible causes for why he turned his back to weep privately.
Jesus asked Mary, “Why are you crying?” I often don’t know myself. I’ve used all the clichés. “I just need a good cry.” “I don’t know why I’m crying.” “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
How much weeping is done without knowledge of what’s buried down deep? A lot. We really don’t know ourselves as God knows us. I often ask Him, “Why am I so upset by this? Show me, please.” I have a Father who, not only sees every tear but, could write a novel on what each one means. When emotions swirl in my head and form nothing but cobwebs, Abba can sort them out. Strand by strand, he disentangles the web and gives insight into the matters of my own heart. If I don’t know myself through God’s eyes, I don’t know myself at all.
Is there anything more painful than to cry and to experience ridicule while doing it? “There she is – crying again.” They believe a mountain is being made out of a molehill. They think they know why there are tears when, in fact, they often have no idea. No wonder we are trained so young to hide our tears and stuff the bulk of them into the dark places of our soul. There, they stagnate, accumulate, and turn us into stoics.
When betrayals are as personal and complicated as Joseph’s, tears will be plentiful. For any today who can’t find an end to their weeping and can’t seem to find resolution, the Counselor promises joy in the morning. Closure is promised if I’m willing to put myself into His safe hands.
I don’t need to protect my heart from You, Father. I submit it fully. Amen