Have you ever cried yourself to sleep? It may be the best thing for you, even though it’s often in response to what feels like the worst thing in the world happening to you.
Crying yourself to sleep won’t kill you, and may actually have benefits in the short-term in the midst of deep emotional pain. Crying releases the emotional build up and offers what some call a catharsis, which is essentially relief from strong, repressed emotions. Self-soothing tears actually help release the pain, toxics and stress, and even aids sleep.
Maybe you were strong through the health battle but lost someone you loved. Maybe you got laid off, watched a friend move far away or experienced abuse in a relationship. Maybe you were betrayed or attacked by someone you loved. Crying yourself to sleep may offer a temporary measure of relief to the soul.
David Cried Himself to Sleep
David, the worshipping warrior, cried himself to sleep—more than once. David recorded his agony in Psalm 6:6-7, “I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief; It grows old because of all my enemies..” Why was David crying? On Scripture heading calls this psalm a “prayer of faith in a time of distress from his enemies.”
A few dozen chapters later, we again find David crying out to God in the midst of distresses, writing: “My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:3). Can you imagine crying so much and so often that you consider your tears your food day and night?
Another few chapters and we see David crying himself to sleep again: “Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God” (Psalm 69:1-3).
God Hears Your Tears
David was certain God heard his tear-laced prayers. He insisted, “Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; The Lord will receive my prayer” (Psalm 6:8-9).
David may have cried, but he didn’t stay down and out. Once, after a good cry, he wrote, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 42:11).
David had plenty of reasons to seek relief from the emotional pain he experienced, but after this watery catharsis he always turned his focus back to God. That’s the key to not drowning in your tears.
In Psalm 69:29-30, David acknowledged, “I am poor and sorrowful; let Your salvation, Oh God, set me on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
Weeping May Endure for a Night
There is a time to cry. Ecclesiastes says so: “A time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Paul’s Spirit-inspired words actually tell us to weep with those who weep (see Romans 12:15). The key is to let out the pain, to cast it on God instead of wallowing in it.
David mastered this amid the betrayals, losses, the enemies that encamped around him, his family’s rejection, Saul’s sudden murderous hatred for him, and so many other trials. David said, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11).
David knew from experience that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (see Psalm 30:5). He knew those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy (Psalm 126:5). He knew when to water his bed with tears and when to rise up and worship.
You, too, can master the art of tears. Don’t keep your emotions pent up. Let it flow out through tears instead. God keeps all your tears in a bottle. He is your Comforter. He comforts those who mourn. Don’t push Him away with your tears. Let Him wipe away every tear from your eyes.
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