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In Real Christians Grieve I explore how biblical it is to cry. This is not to put down those who find they cannot cry but simply to remove false ideas about crying.

Often abusers do even worse things to their victims if they cry, so those subjected to such abuse learn not to cry and may even fear it. Even years after the abuser has left, they often still find it difficult or nearly impossible to allow themselves this natural means of releasing of emotions. Letting yourself cry in private is way of not letting such an abuser win.

People in the Bible understood the healing power of shedding tears far better than most of us. An example is David, the macho giant-killer just before he became king. He and his men returned to discover that an enemy army far stronger than them had burned their homes to the ground and kidnapped all their loved ones. “So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep,” (1 Samuel 30:4). Then, in an incredible display of courage, strength and endurance, they chased down the enemy and utterly defeated them.

The Bible mentions people who were skilled at weeping and wailing who were paid to visit those whose loved one has recently died (Examples). Various other cultures, as far apart as Africa, India, China and the Philippines have similar practices.

“Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament,” says Jeremiah 9:20, suggesting that ways of expressing grief were actually taught in order to facilitate emotional release. It seems that such displays of emotions were so common and socially acceptable that it was incorporated into children’s play:

    Luke 7:32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.” (Emphasis mine.).