IOne of the most remarkable passages of scripture is that found in the dialogue between Enoch and God found in Chapter 7 of the Book of Moses. Indeed, I recently read Terryl Givens remarkable book “The God Who Weeps” which takes its title and central message from this powerful passage. The God revealed by the Prophet Joseph Smith is one that takes an active part of the world he has created and is far from the detached God of Deist conception. Indeed, God is not removed from feeling sorrow and sadness or happiness and joy!
28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon theresidue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?
29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;
31 And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace,justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?
32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;
34 And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them.
35 Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.
36 Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all thecreations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren.
37 But behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?
There is a stereotype in our culture that crying is not ‘masculine’ and that men should not cry. However, if the God of the universe is not beyond feeling sorrow and crying, neither should we be. Christ likewise wept on several occasions including the death of Lazarus and from joy during his visit to the Nephites.
I’ve been thinking a lot about crying, because I have noticed recently that since my conversion and baptism and especially since my mission I find it much easier to tear up when reading particularly happy or sad stories. Indeed, I have become a bit of a sucker for emotional movies that I once would have viewed as emotionally manipulative and really disliked ( Things like Charly or a Walk to Remember come to mind). When I read in the Ensign stories of converts who struggle alone in the church until miraculously their families hearts are softened, I begin to tear up with great ease. In the past few weeks, reading the profiles of those precious children lost at Sandy Hook also brought many tears of sorrow to my eyes.
One experience early on in my mission really stands out to me in this regard: One day, we were tracting in part of our area without a lot of success. A man opened the door and it was immediately obvious that he was in a bad mood. Indeed, when I mentioned that I was a missionary, he began to criticize and exclaim how he does not believe in God. I asked him why, and he explained that his wife had recently tragically died and therefore he knew God could not exist. He quickly slammed the door before I could say too much more. My companion and I began to walk away, when I was overwhelmed with a sense of love and compassion that brought tears to my eyes. I could feel how much God loved that man and also knew that his wife was up in heaven looking down upon her husband with tears of compassion. I felt strongly prompted to knock on his door again, and when he opened I bore testimony that I knew his wife loved him and that he could once again see her again. He was stunned when I told him that and was obviously moved almost to tears. I asked him for his phone number to try to follow up with him, and he give it to me and then closed the door. He never actually answered the phone or agreed to meet with us, but it was still one of those experiences that I will never forget because of the empathy and love that I felt for this complete stranger.
I’d been thinking a lot about how becoming more like Christ inevitably involves also feeling more empathy and more “Sorrow For Sin,” when I stumbled upon a the words of an Apostle (Marvin j. Ashton) which clearly labels the ability to cry as a gift of the Spirit!
“Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.”
Whenever we are able to feel compassion and charity that is a gift from God. Another favorite scripture comes to mind (Moroni 7:48)
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
I’ve noticed that as I grow in love towards someone, my feelings of charity and empathy tend to grow. Recently, my Fiance had a minor procedure done to her foot and was in quite a bit of pain. As I comforted her and gave her a blessing, I could literally feel some of the pain that she was feeling. That pain made me want to hold her a bit closer and to comfort her as much as possible. I can only imagine what God, who loves each of us perfectly, must feel when we suffer.
As we grow to become more like God, our bowls will be filled with mercy and charity towards all.