For crying out loud


SOME popular bars in Chinese cities have only a sofa, a few tables, and many boxes of tissues. These are known as cry bars, where customers can sit and weep for about $6 per hour.

The bars provide onions and red peppers for those who need help bursting into tears. Bartenders play sad music and dolls are available for customers to throw around or beat while they vent their anger at a broken relationships.

The bars are for people who have found life so desperate, so morally and spiritually confusing that they often wanted to cry, but didn’t know when or where it would be appropriate to do so.

This could be China’s answer to Prozac and expensive psycho-therapy.

The cry bars are perhaps bringing temporary relief to the afflicted, but it won’t solve the problems of a spiritually confused age.

Some things about human nature are universal. When good things happen, we are in heaven; when bad things happen, we are in hell. The fragmentary nature of our experience shatters us into fragments. One minute the world is full of light, then suddenly it is full of dark. No wonder we want to cry.

Martin Luther King said there was so much frustration in the world because we have relied on gods rather than God. We have genuflected before the god of science, only to find that it has given us the atomic bomb, producing fears and anxieties that science can never mitigate. We have worshipped the god of pleasure, only to discover that thrills play out and sensations are short lived.

We have bowed before the god of money, only to learn that there are such things as love and friendship that money cannot buy, and that in a world of recessions, stock market crashes and bad business investments, money is a rather uncertain deity. We need help but, for most, spirituality has an otherworldly ring to it, calling to mind eccentric monks who forsake the world, take vows of poverty and isolate themselves in monasteries.

What about the rest of us?
What about those of us who live in the city, have a wife or husband, three children, two cats and a washing machine that has stopped working? What about those of us who are single, work 60 to 70 hours a week, have parents who wonder why we’re not married, and have friends who make much more money than we do?
What about those of us who are divorced, still trying to heal from the scars of rejection, trying to cope with the single?parenting of children who don’t understand why this has happened to them?
Is there spirituality for the rest of us who are not secluded in a monastery, who don’t have it all together and probably never will?

I once asked a pastor friend from Sri Lanka, who has presided over amazing healing meetings across the world, why such miracle happenings seem more common in poorer nations. “I think one reason is that the poor and less educated do not intellectualise their faith,” he said. “They merely accept that they are loved by God and expect the best from Him. They do not talk about what they do not have, but rather what they do have. And because of that, they are open to accept when the normal order of things falls away and a truly miraculous event occurs.”

French scientist and mystic Teilhard de Chardin said our lives would change when we realised we were not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.


5 thoughts on “For crying out loud

  1. “Does everyone have a “God-shaped hole”?”

    The “God-shaped hole” concept states that every person has a void in his soul/spirit/life that can only be filled by God. The “God-shaped hole” is the innate longing of the human heart for something outside itself, something transcendent, something “other.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 refers to God’s placing of “eternity in man’s heart.” God made humanity for His eternal purpose, and only God can fulfill our desire for eternity. All religion is based on the innate desire to “connect” with God. This desire can only be fulfilled by God, and therefore can be likened to a “God-shaped hole.”

    The problem, though, is that humanity ignores this hole or attempts to fill it with things other than God. Jeremiah 17:9 describes the condition of our hearts: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Solomon reiterates the same concept: “The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live…” (Ecclesiastes 9:3). The New Testament concurs: “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Romans 8:7). Romans 1:18-22 describes humanity ignoring what can be known about God, including presumably the “God-shaped hole,” and instead worshipping anything and everything other than God.

    Sadly, too many spend their lives looking for something other than God to fill their longing for meaning—business, family, sports, etc. But in pursuing these things that are not eternal, they remain unfulfilled and wonder why their lives never seem satisfactory. There is no doubt that many people pursuing things other than God achieve a measure of “happiness” for a time. But when we consider Solomon, who had all the riches, success, esteem, and power in the world—in short, all that men seek after in this life—we see that none of it fulfilled the longing for eternity. He declared it all “vanity,” meaning that he sought after these things in vain because they did not satisfy. In the end he said, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

    Just as a square peg cannot fill a round hole, neither can the “God-shaped hole” inside each of us be filled by anyone or anything other than God. Only through a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ can the “God-shaped hole” be filled and the desire for eternity fulfilled.

    Got Questions Org


    • So true.

      Hand an impromptu prayer time last night with some friends. I must confess that I was tired and not really in the mood but I forced myself to participate. The first song that came to me was ‘We Are One In The Spirit’…..and they’ll know we are Christians by our love. The second song I needed to sing was ‘Refresh Our Hearts Lord’ ’cause I was feeling dry (spiritually).

      All of a sudden the Holy Spirit came upon me as a mighty wind and I was having to gulp in air, breathing deeply with each breath, which when you consider I’ve not long recovered from an acute Asthma attack, an attack which necessitated me being admitted to casualty, that in itself is remarkable, let alone the presence of the hHoly Spirit manifesting as a mighty spiritual wind.

      He refreshed my heart all right, and did my lungs a lot of good too I suspect. And God will refresh yours too if you will but ask Him to.


  2. If the cry-bars help to ease the human lot, why not?

    I am reminded of the story of the man lost at sea who prayed that God would save him, and received an assurance of this. So he refused rescue by an ocean liner, then by a yachtsman, then by a man on a raft, and ended up perishing. In Heaven he asked God why He hadn’t kept His promise of recue.God repled that he had come not once but three times.

    We serve God by helping others. We don’t have to preach to them, God will give them an understanding right for them when and if He deems it’s right.


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