Awful tragedies happen, and we pastors have the heavy privilege of walking with our members through those seasons.
Sometimes those tragedies are unimaginably shocking – like the recent shooting in a school in Florida. Or like the death of the young child of a prominent Christian leader. Both have happened in the last few days, but both have happened before. I am not going to stick my head into the hornets’ nest of US gun law, but the relative frequency of these events is sickening, and to a Brit like me, inexplicable. And it is less than five years since Rick Warren’s son, Matthew, took his own life after a prolonged battle with borderline personality disorder.
We live in a fallen world. Although we know the story has a happy ending, where we are right now means we lament.
When such events directly strike one of our circle, we are instantly impacted. As I learnt sharply a year ago. But sometimes the events are just in the air, as unasked questions, or unexpressed pain, or sudden, sharp memories of long-ago pain.
John Piper would remind us, we pastors are not professionals. We do not merely counsel those who weep, visit those who weep, pray with and for those who weep, or read the bible’s precious promises to those who weep. We must do all those things, but we must weep with those who weep too (Rom. 12:15).
Jesus showed us that it is normal for pastors to cry at a funeral, no matter how strongly we believe in the resurrection.
Pastors, you are allowed – you are commanded – to weep.