The Tear Collector
As a little girl, I went through several phases of collecting things. Growing up with two older brothers and living in a neighborhood with mostly boys; I was quite the tomboy. So at one point, my collections were baseball cards and rocks. I can still smell that thin, cardboard like bubble gum that was included in each pack of baseball cards. And I can so easily recall the excitement I felt when my granddaddy brought me all kinds of rocks from his trip across country and Canada. Those collections were precious to me.
Did you know that God also has a collection? The Bible tells us so. Psalm 56:8 says, “ You keep track of all my sorrows. You collect my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (NLT)
Have you ever noticed that people will often apologize when they cry in public? We are ashamed of our tears. Unfortunately, we’ve been given the message that it’s wrong to express our sorrow. We’ve come to believe that crying is a weakness and that hiding our sorrow is a show of strength. The truth is that God encourages and invites us to share our expressions of sorrow and suffering. Therefore, it must be something we need to do.
There are countless scriptures that declare His desire for us to share our sorrows with Him. “Arise, cry out in the night….pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord” (Lamentations 2:19). “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”(1 Peter 5:7). Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, “There is, …a time to weep…”.
Thankfully, our gracious God doesn’t leave us alone in our sorrow. He hears our cry.“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears…” (Psalm 34:17). “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.” (Psalm 55:17). “ In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. (Psalm 18:6) “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted.” (Psalm 34:18)
The Lord is near to the broken-hearted.
God, in his mercy, not only hears; he understands. He empathizes with us because he is familiar our emotions. His son, Jesus, became man and experienced all the sufferings that we do as humans. In the garden of Gethsemane he said to his disciples,“My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death”(Matthew 26:38). Later in the garden, he prays, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). And then there is that verse that we all have memorized because it’s the shortest in the Bible; “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). His sorrow was deep when his friend Lazarus died.
Have you ever wondered why God made that verse the shortest in the entire Bible? Maybe he wanted to remind us that it’s okay to cry…to weep, when, like Jesus, our hearts are broken.
In 2017, a series of events and circumstances in my life caused me to shed lots of tears. I cried out to God a lot! There were times I felt the tears were never going to stop. And I have to admit there were moments when I questioned whether or not he cared. As I look back, I realize he cared much more than I could ever imagine. I truly believe he used each one of my tears to plant seeds that would grow my trust in him. After a while, he lifted me out of that pit.
You see, there can be no resurrection without a crucifixion. The good news is, there is a resurrection! And there is purpose in our pain. Our suffering is not in vain. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
Perhaps the most wonderful thing God does with our tears is that one day, he will wipe them all away. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4) The God of all comfort will turn our weeping into joy; our mourning into dancing. And he will resurrect and transform us. And we will declare, along with other believers from every tribe and every nation: “For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
So when you find yourself in those times when the hurt, the fear, the heartache, the despair….whatever is ruminating in your heart; let the tears flow. Give them to the one who collects them. Let him put them in his bottle. Each tear is precious to him.