Lately, my world is rocked by people who are suffering from one sad event after another. For some, it’s been about the passing of a loved one. For someone else, it’s about the breakup of a relationship, and for still others it’s simply that life seems to have broken down and they have become uncertain just where they stand or where to go from here. When you face illness or heartache or anything that brings tears to your eyes, it can feel like no one really understands what you’re going through, like no one can truly comfort your heart. It can feel like you’re all alone. I know these things, because I’ve been there and you have too.
This morning as I contemplated all of this, I was drawn to a reading in Psalm 56:8 which says this: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” As I shared this Scripture with my husband, he told me that this verse was actually a literal thing. In Old Testament times, women would keep tear bottles. When their loved ones went off to war or were away from home for long periods of time, the women would literally catch their tears in a bottle. When their mate came home again, they would hold up the bottle and let them see how much they were missed and how many tears had been shed over them. Though we might not keep tear bottles today, the idea that someone thinks of us, cares about us, and weeps over us is an impressive one. The fact that the God of this universe thinks of us, cares for us, and weeps over us, is somewhat mind bending. I suspect He has quite a collection of tear bottles for most of us and seeks in every way possible to comfort us.
The Psalm actually goes on to say, “This I know, God is on my side.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I find that a pretty comforting idea. In fact, I have to work to truly embrace the thought that God is on my side all the time, no matter what, no matter whether I’m paying attention to Him or not…He keeps on caring, and He keeps on taking note of what happens in my life, and more than that, He stays very close to me. I’m just paper, but He’s the glue.
The gift of being human is that we can weep for each other and then we can help each other rise again. We can be the arms of comfort, the radiant light, and the smiles of joy. We are meant to be in a relationship that offers support, and catches our tears in a bottle because that’s what love does. That’s what God does! So surround yourself with loving friends when tears sneak down your cheeks and remember that you’re known and loved always by the One who created you. The psalmist finishes the text by saying, “You have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.”
May that beautiful light shine on you and the people you love today. It’s time to dry your tears.