The Man Who Wouldn’t Weep
by Murray Andrew Pura
He would not weep when a friend or acquaintance died. He would not weep at funerals.
“It is not that I am an iron man or a man without feelings,” he would tell others. “It is just that I am a man of faith. These people are all going to be with God in heaven. They all believe in Jesus. Why should I weep?”
His mother died, his father died, brothers and sisters died, his best friends at church died. He stood quietly at their gravesides while others poured out their grief. Sometimes he even smiled slightly. “I can’t help it,” he explained. “They are going to be with God in heaven. They all believe in Jesus. Death is good.”
Others watched carefully when his wife died. But he was the same. Death was a gift. His wife was with God. There was nothing to be upset about. “Now she is fully alive with Christ,” he told his friends.
His youngest daughter died in childbirth and twin infants with her. It rocked the entire community in which he lived. He stood stalwart before the three coffins. “It is a faith thing,” he told the hundreds of assembled mourners. “Emotion has nothing to do with it. Love has nothing to do with it. God said it. I believe it. They live in heaven.”
A month later his other daughter was killed in a car crash. A shadow seemed to fall over his features. Yet he remained defiant: “I haven’t wept before and I am certainly not going to start now. She lives. How can I grieve if she lives? To God be the glory.”
A week later his only remaining child, a son, collapsed during classes at university and was hospitalized. He had contracted a rare and deadly virus and only lived another 24 hours. His father stayed with him until the end.
“I’m slipping away, Dad, I’m sorry,” the son whispered.
“Stay with me a little longer,” the man said. “I love you.”
“I can’t hold on. But I’m going to heaven, aren’t I? God loves me, doesn’t he?”
His boy died while he held his hand. The man felt heat and wetness on his cheeks and a burning in his throat. Ashamed, he tried to fight back the crying. But he could not. It erupted from some place deep inside and poured over his face. He heard himself calling out his wife’s name and his daughters’ names, the names that had been chosen for the twins while they were in the womb, the names of his parents and his sisters and his brothers and his friends.
“My God!” he shrieked in his agony. “Where is my faith?”
He ran out of the hospital and across the street to a park where he hid himself in a grove of trees. He could not stop himself from crying no matter how many Bible verses on everlasting life he shouted out loud. The dark of night covered him and still he cried. “I hate death, I hate death, I hate death,” he found himself saying again and again. By dawn he lay exhausted and chilled on the grass under a poplar. “I have no faith left now,” he whispered. “I have nothing.”
A man in a dirty suit who reeked of beer and garlic squatted down in front of him. “You kept me awake half the night with your wailing. But I got no cause to complain. We all fall on hard times. I’ve cried myself to sleep a few times in my life. I used to be a brain surgeon, y’ know. Name’s Leo.”
The man looked at him. “What do you want? Money?”
“A fellow can always do with some money. Do you have any to spare?”
The man took out his wallet. He had several hundred dollars in bills. He gave them all to the man in the dirty suit. Leo smiled and tucked the money into a suit pocket.
“Thank you for that.”
“I don’t need it. I have nothing left to live for.”
“What? Are you going to take your life?”
“Why not? Everyone I love is dead. I’ve lost my faith.”
“Now there’s a strange thing. I would say you just found your faith.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Jesus wept. You finally got that part figured out. And death is rotten. It's the last enemy. From what I heard last night you got that part figured out too. Put that together with eternity and Jesus Christ and the universe is in your pocket.”
“Who are you?”
“Leo. I’m a messenger. Are you afraid of me?”
“No one ever is. Ah, well. Here’s your money back. Thanks for the kind gesture but you’ll be needing it more than me. Take care.”
Leo walked into the bushes and disappeared. The man stood up and the sun shone full in his face. That Friday he got to his feet in front of three hundred people and the sun shone through the stained glass into his face again.
“There is a heaven,” he said. “There is life with Christ long after this one is over. But I cannot hug my son today. I cannot kiss my wife or my daughters or my grandchildren. Cry because death was never meant to be. Cry because God never wanted us to suffer. Jesus wept more than once. Christ help us be spiritual enough to weep with him. Christ give us the faith to grieve. Christ fill our eyes and make us more like God.”
And he sat and put his face in his hands and sobbed before his son’s coffin. So he did not see what all the others glimpsed for the briefest moment. A vision of people dancing at the front of the church. And the people had the faces of his wife and his parents and his children. And another with them had the look of the Son of God.