In Brennan Manning's classic "The Ragamuffin Gospel", he tells a story about a pastor friend of his who grew weary of ministry, bottomed out, resigned his church, abandoned his family and made his way to a logging camp in Michigan.
The man was living in a 12 foot by 20 foot trailer in the biting Michigan winter. One night about three weeks into his time as a logger, he was sitting alone in the trailer shivering in the cold and dark. He was bitter, angry, hurting, broken, ashamed, and alone.
Then the little space heater quit.
Brennan said that the next thing the man did was fall to his knees, burst into tears and hurled obscenities heavenward. Then when he'd screamed himself hoarse, he whisper; "God...I hate you!".
A few minutes of weeping later and he suddenly became aware of the presence of Jesus in the trailer. He heard Jesus say "I know you do...it's alright". And then Brennan's friend heard Jesus weeping along with him.
An hour or so later, the man stood up, grabbed his coat, left the trailer and started home toward his family.
The healing began when he realized that God wasn't angry with him for being angry...and when he heard Jesus weeping.
I knew as I read this story for the first time, that the man was not being figurative. Nor had Brennan related the message in that way. It was literal. I instinctively felt like it was possible, and also that it was unlikely that I would ever experience something so magnificent. It never bothered me that this would never happen for me, as I expected this was not something that happened too frequently.
But last week...as my world was collapsing more each day and as I was picking up the pieces of my broken heart and cutting my hands on the jagged shards...Jesus did this for me.
I wish I had written down the night. Maybe it was Wednesday. I only know that I awoke at about 2 AM from a fitful sleep in my Yukon. I instantly thought of my daughter, and how I love her and how I miss her and how I feel like I am letting her down with my situation. I lay there in my sleeping bag and looked out the window at the stars and I thought "I'm 50 years old...I'm sleeping in my car, and showering at the gym and doing odd jobs for gas money and food money." It was a hard thing to say to myself, but what followed was even harder. Tears welled in my eyes and I whispered; "I don't know how I am ever going to get back on my feet...I don't know how this is ever going to change." And then the flood gates opened. I sobbed in silence in the back of my truck and churned my situation over and over and over in my mind. I thought of my daughter, and my house and my dogs and my cat. I thought of Morgan growing into adulthood with a dad who can't find anything more than pressure washing jobs a few days a week. I thought of all the cutting, hurtful words people have said, some to wound me on purpose and some wounding me in ignorance as they made my plight more about them than about me. I thought about Christmas when Morgan was little and how I would climb up on the roof and shake some sleigh bells and "Ho Ho Ho" and she'd think it was Santa and how that ended too soon. How this plight of mine had begun when she was 10 and she was a young woman now and still here I was. And I sobbed and couldn't stop. I tried to pray, because it felt like I was supposed to do that. But all I could do was cry. I said "I'm scared, Lord. I'm scared this is all there is for me"
And it happened...Jesus wept.
I heard Him as clear as a bell. Only for a few moments, but I heard it. It literally scared me at first but then it felt somehow healing and calming. He simply said "I know" and I heard Him weeping.
It was amazing. I thought I was asleep and dreaming at first, but I was awake. Awake and hearing my Savior weeping for my broken heart.
He wept when nobody else would. He wept even as others pounded me with their arrogant, soul-crushing opinion. He wept while the wounding words of a few people echoed in my ears. He wept.
He wept like He did that day in Bethany when Lazarus lay dead and the grief that consumed his family broke Jesus' heart and drove Him to weep along with them. Weep so loudly that it caught the crowd off guard and they said "Look how much he loved Lazarus!".
He wept as a friend would weep. A friend who cares and loves and knows how much all this has hurt me and how it has broken me and reshaped me and beaten me down and stripped away everything I once was. He wept as a loving friend would weep.
Romans 5 tells us we have a High Priest who is touched deeply by the feelings of our weaknesses. And He is.
There are so many broken, wounded, crushed, ashamed people in this world. People who have been battered and who can't even feel their own hearts anymore. Jesus weeps for you too my friend.
I realized that night that until I got to where I would just stop trying to hide this, or disguise it, or pretend that it doesn't hurt me as much as it does...I would never know the tears of my Savior.
But once I hit that point where I didn't care what anyone thought any more. The point where I would stop listening to the voices telling me that somehow this is my fault, my doing, or my lot in life and where I would stop being a spiritual John Wayne and simply cry out...withholding nothing. In that moment I heard Jesus weeping for me and with me.
And it began the long road to a new home.