And Jesus Wept

During today's gospel reading, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, I wondered if our tears are not only the lenses through which we see Jesus, but if perhaps they are not prayers in and of themselves. In the gospel, when Jesus arrives at the tomb of Lazarus we are told "And Jesus wept." (John 11:35 - this is the shortest verse in the whole bible, just in case you were wondering.) What follows is then the conversation about the stench and Jesus admonishing Martha for not believing, and while there is good stuff there, that's not what stood out to me today. It was that the next time Jesus spoke he said: "Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowed here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me."And then Jesus calls Lazarus out.

So, in a bit of sequence, here is how it went:

And Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
Jesus said: Father, I thank you for hearing me. (John 11:41)

There was nothing in between the weeping of Jesus and the prayer of thanks to the Father for hearing Him. No "please raise Lazarus." or "Bring my friend back to life." or anything of the like. From Jesus' weeping straight to gratitude for being heard.

So often, when the tears are coming it is because I feel abandoned, forgotten, ignored. I wonder if God hears my prayers, sees my pain, even cares at all. In my head I know that He does, but my heart and soul just don't feel it. And I wondered, if our tears can be lenses through which we see Jesus, can they also be words that we are unable to say offered in prayer to God that He is able to hear? It seems from today's gospel that they are. In my search to find an image to include with this post, I came across this, supporting my interpretation of today's gospel (in my humble opinion):
(If you are looking for this in your bible or online, if you are using a Catholic bible it is Psalm 56:9, 56:8 is the reference in a Protestant bible and is what was on this image when I found it.)
In light of this and even though I've come to see my tears as a grace, the lenses through which I see Jesus, at times, as I wrote about last, I've also felt guilty so many times when they have appeared.

E. commented that perhaps my tears were not feeling sorry for myself, but rather sorrow, and I've been trying to think about them differently. I've spent much time in the last few days reflecting on my tears and many of the emotions of infertility in a new light. I've been struggling with where these reflections are leading me, as I'm not arriving at the place of clarity and understanding that I desire. I have resisted this experience of sorrow. Sorrow being different from sadness, a deeper experience than sadness; one that sticks around. Though I have fought the sadness, too.

I've told myself countless times that I have no right to be sorrowful. I have so many blessings in my life, how dare I have sorrow over the one thing that I do not have.

I've compared my suffering to others - even feeling extreme guilt for suffering over this at all. I mean, I am not dying, I do not have a debilitating illness, and I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. All leading to the conclusion that I have no right to be sad, let alone sorrowful. I realize this is not a healthy approach, for if we should not let comparison steal my joy, I suspect I should also not let comparison steal my sorrow either. Yet the latter is more difficult for me.

I can't explain to others clearly why infertility hurts so badly, I don't understand it myself. I've faced many disappointments in my life, didn't get many things that I wanted, and yet, infertility is different. It is almost impossible to explain.

Then, there is the shame. The shame in answering the question "how many children do you have with?" with zero. The shame in allowing infertility to consume so much of my life. While it doesn't consume it all, not a portion of a day goes by without it entering my mind, without a reminder and having to deal with the emotions of that reminder. Sometimes when I lay down at night the only prayer I can muster is that the next day I will be granted a morning or an afternoon in which I don't think about my inability to have children; about my brokenness. There is so much shame in how much this has consumed my life, and yet no matter how hard I try, it doesn't get better - the consuming or the shame.

There is shame in the sorrow. So while I've come to realize my tears were not tears of self-pity, but rather of sorrow, the shame is still there. I am embarrassed that when someone says something that is truly kind and helpful, that I feel sad and sorrowful instead of grateful; I am embarrassed that when someone announces a pregnancy, I am filled with sorrow for my own lack, even amidst my joy for them. Once again, I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

I don't have answers to this shame, sorrow, suffering trifecta that seems to be enveloping me these days, I am trying to remind myself of these two things: My tears are lenses through which to Jesus and they are prayers that I am unable to speak, but that God, hears, understands and answers according to His will. These tears that I am ashamed of, these emotions that I don't know what to do with that spill out of my eyes without my permission, perhaps they are an even greater grace than I realize?


  1. This is exactly how I feel right now, too. I wish I could say something helpful, but I too am experiencing the same sorrow, questions, and struggles. Though it may not bring you any peace, and I certainly understand that, know that you are not alone. My prayers are with you today.

  2. I haven't cried in awhile, and in a way I missed the release of emotion, even though it didn't really fix IF. I think I need to cry, even though I feel those same emotions you do. I did have a cry last week, it was a not fun IF week. I really like your thoughts on Jesus' prayers of thanksgiving after weeping. That is one of my favorite Bible stories because of the Jesus wept verse, but I never thought much about what came directly after. Thank u!

  3. What a beautiful observation you've made in the Lazarus miracle. Jesus never prayed, just wept. It makes so much sense to me that those tears were, in fact, prayers. I needed that reminder. Those tears probably speak so much louder than any inadequate words I can muster in prayer. They carry so much pain, emotion, sadness, brokenness. It's crazy what a little bit of water spilling out of our eyes can contain.

    Just yesterday, I was trying to help my husband through some IF grief he was feeling. You're right by saying it's just so hard to understand and therefore explain why it's so terrible, painful. But the conclusion I came to and shared with him was this... (btw, pretty sure you already know this and have probably even written posts about it before, so here I am, trying to help by telling you something you already know)... IF is so hard because it's the loss of something you never tangibly had. Loss of all the dreams you had for your life. A loss of clear vision for your future and your family. Loss of control over your body. Loss of a connection with everyone else in the word who can make babies with ease. And all of this is SO hidden. We need to keep walking through the world like nothing's wrong while we carry this unexplainable grief. THAT'S (one of the many reasons) why IF hurts so much. And I'm sorry any of us need to go through it. So, so sorry.

    Praying for you.

  4. I know those emotions and tears you talk about in this post...all too well. Luckily, I've grown stronger and I don't try to reflect on my IF anymore. It didn't make it go away...I just had to live with it. Maybe by God's grace I have learned to live with it. I have moments...but on the most part...I just come to realize that having my own baby is not God's will for my dh and I. I pleaded, I begged, I pounded my fists...all I got in return was silence. It's good to release and to open up about what IF does to one's life. It's not an easy journey.

  5. I think knowing that Jesus wept helps me make sense of our tears. After all, if Our Lord feels such sadness and pain He must understand ours. And if He understands it, it is not for nothing that we feel and endure it.

    As always, you are in my toghts & prayers!

  6. Just found this post (digging out a little bit...)
    I relate to what you write here only because of my experience of losing Gregory last year. But I remember all the tears I cried. Sometimes my chest clamps and my throat tightens when I remember the sorrow I experienced. I know it's not the same as infertility, but I do think that my loss and my subsequent sorrow helps me to understand your pain and sorrow at your infertility. It is a void, yes, but it is a loss as well. Every cycle that passes, I would think that you mourn that opportunity, you question "why, God?" and your are sorrowful that again, you must face that you have empty arms, empty womb.

    One of the books someone sent me last year discussed this -- "empty arms" and "empty womb." Of course, i was grieving something different, but I feel like it gave me some way to connect with you...some what I might understand on some level, your agony and sorrow.

    I'm glad that tears are prayers because there were many many of those last year when I didn't know what I ought to pray for in any other way. I didn't have an opportunity to pray that my child might live...I only found out about his death after it happened. And that was really the only prayer I think I could have thought of at that time. just one of those, "Please God, don't let this happen to me." Of course, that prayer would have been useless and inadequate anyway...God had already called Gregory home and my path was already laid out for me. So, without any cognitive ability to relay a prayer that would make sense, I simply...wept.

    I pray that at some point, you will not be ashamed of your tears. They count, too. Your prayers are worthy. Your pain is valid.

    Continued prayers for you, my dear friend.