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Tears in the Bible: A Look at What the Scriptures Say

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Tears are a part of life, from childhood to adulthood. We cry tears when we are sad or mourning a loss, cry when we are fearful, and even cry tears of joy. We cry our own tears and cry tears for others. God created us to experience emotion. He hears our cry and sees every tear we shed.

It’s easy to feel ashamed of our tears, but again, God created us to feel emotions. If he didn’t, wouldn’t we just be robots? Our relationship with him would not be genuine, as it is founded on love, reverence, fear, and so many other emotions. 

That is not to say that our emotions are to drive our relationship with the Creator, as emotions can also be driven by our sin nature. However, emotions are a huge part of us as God’s creation. Let’s see what the word of God has to say specifically about tears. 

image of woman crying with the text Tears in the Bible: A Look at What the Scriptures Say

What The Bible Says About Tears

So where can we find tears in the Bible, and what does the Bible say about tears? 

Tears are a fairly common theme throughout the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testaments, in fact, in the original King James Version of the Bible (I have not found any resources that provide word counts for the NIV or other translations):

  • the word – tear – appears 13 times*
  • the word – tears – appears 36 times*
  • *(although the word tear or tears can also denote rip or ripping)
  • the word – cried – appears 199 times
  • the word – cries – appears once
  • the word – criest – appears 5 times
  • the word – crieth – appears 17 times
  • the word – cry – appears 181 times
  • the word – crying – appears 31 times

Clearly, there is something to be said about tears and crying as they relate to our relationships with the Lord God. Let’s look at some scriptures and see what the word of God has to say about it. 

Tears in the Bible

Tears are a Part of Our Human Life and Experience

“a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (ESV)

God has created us to be emotional beings. We laugh, we shout, we cry. Our world is a sinful one. A fallen one. There is plenty to cry about, including loss, death, fear, disappointment – even joy. Crying is our emotional response to situations we face as humans. It’s ok to cry, in fact, we can be comforted knowing that God created us to cry, at times. Sometimes, we can’t even help our tears, but often, crying will help us to be refreshed and even restored. Have you ever felt better after a “good cry”?

Tears are Temporary

For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5 (ESV)

This snipped from this Psalm of David refers to an account recorded in 1 Chronicles 21, where David is enticed by Satan and punished by God. In this account, Satan convinces David to take a census of Israel, and so Joab, the commander of the Israeli army, is sent out to do so. David did not come out of this with a clear conscience, as he felt much affliction after the census was completed and prayed for forgiveness, but God was angry.

God’s response was to give David a choice between 3 punishments and David chose 3 days of disease. The disease ended up killing a multitude of people – 70,000 Israelites – but just as the angel that was sent to spread the disease was about to hit the holy city of Jerusalem, God relented, telling the angel, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” (1 Chronicles 21:15).

David made a mistake and faced God’s wrath, but even in his wrath, God had mercy. 

Because of this we can rest in our times of sorrow knowing that the Heavenly Father still holds us in the palm of his hand. Whether what we are facing is a punishment from God or not, his grace and mercy is never ending. Though we cry in the moment, we will sing songs of joy in the morning. 

Think of a child and a father. The father disciplines the child to correct their wrongdoings, and the child probably feels much affliction from the punishment, maybe even to the point of tears. The child’s father still expresses his love and care for the child even in the midst of the discipline, and the child continues to love the father wholeheartedly. 

God Sees Our Tears

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry; 

Psalm 34:15 (ESV)

Many of us don’t want others to see us cry, but God sees our tears (even those we cry in secret or behind closed doors). He knows our pain, our hurts, and our disappointment. He mourns with us and is there with us and for us. Our tears should bring us to our knees in front of Our Heavenly Father to remind us that we need Him and He loves us.

image of blonde woman crying for the post on tears in the Bible

God Cares About Our Tears

Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

Luke 6:21 (ESV)

This passage is part of Jesus’s teaching called the Beatitudes, which are ” eight declarations of blessedness spoken by Jesus in the days of his flesh at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.” These are also recorded in the gospel of Matthew. 

The significance of the Beatitudes is that they focus on those who are lowly, speaking of a time when they will be brought out of that. In this verse, Jesus promises that those who hunger will one day be satisfied, and those who cry will experience joy. When this will be, we do not know. It could be when Jesus comes back again, and the former things pass away, making room for the new heaven and earth, or it could have been when Jesus died on the cross to forgive all of humanity. What we do know is that Jesus was fully God, and God is faithful to his promises. 

Have you ever cried in front of someone who just doesn’t seem to care about your tears? That is not the case with The Lord. He cares about you and your tears. His fatherly compassion draws Him near to the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). 

God Will Turn Our Tears Into Joy

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 

John 16:20 (ESV)

As the disciples were crying, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy”. Our tears will dry up. Our hurting will diminish. Our grief and disappointment will soften. It may be hard to believe that if you are experiencing a time of sadness now. But if we believe in God, we can cling to Him during the pain, grief, and rest, knowing He will turn our tears into joy one day.

Tears are One of the Punishments for the Wicked and Unbelievers

There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.

Luke 13:28 (ESV)

It’s hard to even think about how much crying, weeping, and tears we’ll see at judgment time. Those who turned their hearts from the Heavenly Father, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, will face regret but won’t be able to go back. Unlike the above verses, where cries were turned to shouts of joy, the mourning and the weeping of the enemies of the cross of Christ will last throughout eternity, facing no end. (If you know someone who continues to resist God, now is a great time to commit to praying for them daily until they are saved in Jesus’ name!) 

This passage seems dark, but it is true. The way into the house of God will be narrow, and few will enter.

Jesus Shed Tears

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept.

John 11:33-35 (ESV)

Jesus was both Lord and man, the Son of Man and Son of God. He was Sovereign yet experienced the same emotions that we do. He also experienced sadness and a deep desire for people to turn from sin. When Jesus cried, the crowd noticed and expressed how much Jesus loved Lazarus. He also cried when He saw the pain of those He loved. He hurt. His spirit hurt – for us. Have you cried when someone you loved was hurting? Jesus cries for the brokenhearted, too. He weeps with us and feels the same anguish of heart that we so often feel alone or lost in. 

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Tears of Believers Will Be Wiped Away Forever

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

This chapter of the Book of Revelation illustrates what life will be like in the new heaven and the new earth, restored to God’s original design. At last, the former things of the world and the former order of things will be conquered, and evil will no longer reign over any part of creation. 

When we are in the muck and mire of pain and hurt, it may be hard to believe that one day, in heaven, we will never cry again. God has prepared a place for His children. In this glorious paradise, the house of the Lord, there will be no more sorrow or mourning. There will be peace, joy, and happiness for all eternity. We won’t need to cry because we will enjoy fellowship with our Lord God forever.

We also see this idea when the prophet Isaiah is declaring praise and exalting God:

“He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 25:8 (ESV)

When we cry, we can remember that God promises to not only wipe away our tears in the moment but to cease their cause. The reproach of his people that he will take away is their shame, failure, and sin. If you are a child of God, part of the Lord’s flock, you will one day be restored to the perfection he designed you for, free of any cause for tears – and that is the word of the Lord. 

God Remembers Our Tears

Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?

Psalm 56:8 (ESV)

God sees us cry, He cares that we are crying, and He even collects our tears. They are written on His scroll. There are times when I felt that God must have volumes just for my tears, but according to God’s word, there is not a single tear shed that is wasted by God. He allows us to hurt and to cry out to Him so that we can find peace in Him. We are each a child of God, and He is our father.

He wants us to feel His presence even in the chaos, pain and trials of this life  – especially in those times. When we cry, we need to cry out in faith and not despair so that our broken hearts can become a whole heart in Him.

An example straight from the word of God of tears drawing God’s people to him is Psalm 80. 

“O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure… Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

Psalm 80:4-5, 7 (ESV)

Even though God was punishing his people, they drew near to him for restoration, as he wanted them to do, as he wanted all His children to do. 

The next time you cry let one of the first things you do be remembering these verses about tears in the Bible and be encouraged that God loves you. He cares about your tears and will wipe your tears away. Your tears will be turned into songs of joy.

Here is a short video an overview of this post about tears in the Bible:

I highly recommend this book, Tears on My Bible, for a fresh perspective on tears, grief, pain, and resting in the hope of our Savior.

Tears On My Bible by Rebecca L. Lively

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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Raye Loretta Garcia

Sunday 17th of April 2022

My husband left me for another woman 7 years ago. I was devastated. So broken. I can't believe he will do it after surviving so many trials in our marriage for 21 years. I still cry about what happened to my life and my family. I even came to the point of losing the li'l faith I have. Yes, this made me lose faith, but kept on clinging to that li'l faith I have. Thanks be to God for letting me meet good priests that guided me. After reading this, I even thought that maybe my tears are there because I am wicked, but then I thought otherwise after reading this. After the experiences I had this Holy Week I can say that my tears will eventually turn into joy. It may not be now but in God's perfect time. Thank you. God be with you in your endeavors. This helped me a lot.

Susan Nelson

Monday 25th of April 2022

I can understand your pain as that happened to me as well (about 15 years ago). I'm so glad that the post blessed you! Thanks for stopping by and have a beautiful and blessed day! Hold on to God and your faith. He has a plan for you!


Wednesday 19th of January 2022

My husband of 45 years went home with the Lord 1/3/22. That week is a fog. I’m Strong believer and prayer warrior but my heart is broken missing him. He’s all around me and during my fasting and prayer, I feel Christ and know Larry is with Him but I’m left here and so unsure of myself. Endless tears.

Susan Nelson

Saturday 5th of February 2022

Oh, I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. May our Father give you comfort and peace that only He can.

Kerubo Jacklyne

Friday 13th of August 2021

Susan thanks for such inspiring information on our tears sometimes life can mean to be hard but after crying to God He is really a faithful and loving God . He hears us.

Susan Nelson

Wednesday 25th of August 2021

Yes! He hears us and loves us and counts every tear. I'm so glad that the post blessed you. Have a wonderful day and thank you for stopping by!


Wednesday 6th of November 2019

I'm 68 years old. I have not cried heart felt cries for myself in years. I believe I've cast my cares on the Lord as the Bible says, but I'm at a place now in my life when past hurts are coming up again and I would love to cry from my heart, release the pain and except the call that God has on my life. I need to cry, I want to cry but I am in such bondage that tears want come. I would appreciate any advice and wisdom that the Lord gives you for me. Thank you,


Wednesday 6th of November 2019

Hi, Patricia - I'm so sorry that you feel that you are in bondage, sister. The best advice I have for you is to get real with God. Pour out your heart. Ask Him to guide you. He will answer and and He will help. I'm praying for you! Thanks for stopping by.

Rita Neukirch

Friday 28th of June 2019

I was looking up tears to show our granddaughter what the Bible says. I thought this was a well researched, Spirit filled post. It is totally Scripture based. Good job! Thank you! Rita


Friday 28th of June 2019

Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I pray that it blessed you and your granddaughter. Thank you for stopping by!

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