Why Do Strong Believers Weep and Wrestle with God?

When we experience suffering as Christians, we’re often left wondering whether we’re allowed to feel the deep spiritual agony and doubt that often accompanies it. Clint Watkins advocates for honest lament and reveals that expressing pain to God is not only allowed but encouraged, offering hope and joy amidst grief. You can get his book, Just Be Honest, here.

I cried often. Every day, in fact — for months. The 12 weeks leading up to my son’s death and the months that followed were soaked in tears.

At first, I was embarrassed by the strength and length of my sadness. As both a man and a missionary, I felt the pressure to polish my pain with composure and confidence. Crying can seem contrary to strong faith.

Weeping seems weak. But in the midst of my grief, I returned to stories of Jesus that I had read and preached for years — yet this time with the clarity of tear-filled eyes.

And I learned anew the value and strength of sorrow. My tears were a tribute to my firstborn, a lament for my family, and a prayer to my Father.

How do you view the sadness you or others experience? Many face shame when tears surface. Others feel that crying is unnecessary or immature.

Still others have experienced rejection for their sorrow, believing now that their burdens are unwelcome. But Jesus shows us that weeping is not something to avoid, rush, or condemn. Weeping is not a display of weakness — it makes you more like your Savior. 

Strong Faith Weeps

Jesus puts this on display at the most somber event — a funeral. What did he do when his friend, Lazarus, died? “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). The shortest Bible verse serves as our strongest endorsement for tears. The Son of God felt sorrow. The King of Kings cried. The Lord of Lords lamented.

Jesus’ tears may surprise you — especially when you consider how unnecessary they seem. In just a few moments, he would raise Lazarus from the dead (vv. 43-44). If there were ever a time for dry eyes at a funeral, this was it.

Jesus could have calmed everyone down with the assurance that their nightmare was about to be undone. But he slowed down. He paused. And he cried. We often do our best to hold back tears even in the face of death — but Jesus let them flow. Not even sovereignty bypasses sorrow.

So why did Jesus weep at Lazarus’ tomb? Because of love. When bystanders saw his tears, they called out, “See how he loved him!” (v. 36). Jesus mourned because people matter.

When death takes someone, it is good and godly to lament their loss and the impact their absence has on others. Our Savior’s graveside sorrow shows us that grief is not merely human; it’s holy.

Jesus wept for his friends; he also shed tears for those who opposed him. Multiple times, he lamented over Jerusalem and the destruction they would face (Luke 13:34-35; 19:41-44).

Even though his own people rejected him, his heart broke for them. Jesus looked at his enemies with tears in his eyes.

He also felt sorrow over his own suffering. As he anticipated his crucifixion, he gathered with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane and “began to be greatly distressed and troubled” (Mark 14:33).

He confided in his closest friends, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (v 34). He didn’t sugarcoat his sadness. He didn’t pretend he was okay or try to stay composed in front of his closest followers.

He was honest about his heartache and distress. He who holds all things together had no problem falling apart.

These portraits show why Jesus was called “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). The one who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3), bent under the burdens of a broken world.

His strength and sovereignty did not prevent him from giving full expression to his heartache. And he encouraged others to do the same — he preached what he practiced.

He endorsed weeping as faithful by saying, “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). Strong faith weeps.

Strong Faith Wrestles

If you could pray like anyone, wouldn’t you want to pray like Jesus? His priestly prayer in John 17 is a masterful tapestry of grace, truth, and love.

His ministry was marked by prayers of gratitude, thanking the Father for things such as his provision ( is the author of Just Be Honest: How to Worship through Tears and Pray without Pretending. Clint is a missionary to college students serving with DiscipleMakers, a campus ministry based in Pennsylvania. Having suffered the devastating loss of two babies, he writes to help fellow sufferers find hope through the gospel and being honest with the Lord. He lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with his wife Jillian and their third child, Conley.

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