“You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them.”
“Mom, what are we supposed to do when we feel like crying? Are we supposed to pray or….” My daughter asked one night, after I had crawled into bed with her and held her tight, and cried like a baby stricken with grief. She too grieved for her friend who had lost her mom and me who had lost my friend.
I told her, “If the good Lord made us with the ability to cry, I believe He intended for us to use it. And there is that verse where God tells us that He collects every tear and stores them in a bottle. Our tears must matter to Him.”
I have shed a few tears in my lifetime. I wonder if God catches them and recycles them into raindrops. Maybe He has warehouses full of bottles with our tears. If they are in bottles, is it one big bottle or several bottles? What if they are labeled and categorized – childhood boo-boos, first love heartache, first pet, parent’s divorce, and so on?
Tears fill our eyes for many different reasons. Some tears rush down our cheeks like faucets from crying so hard it feels like our lungs are folding in and we are gasping for our next breath. Our lungs, our hearts, and our heads will surely explode from the writhing pain.
Then there are the tears right in the back of our eyes, but an invisible dam has formed, closing the ducts, and there is no release. We can be teary-eyed at moments, have once and done tears, and tears that come in waves.
There are the tears we didn’t see coming when a song, a memory, or a simple single thought triggers the water in our eyes, and the invisible dam opens the floodgates.
If the bottles are categorized, I have many labeled with my friend Daryl’s name. It started several years ago with the first diagnosis of breast cancer. The tears ebbed and flowed and then we had a couple of years of reprieve. The intensity and frequency of the tears began to flow again just a couple of years ago. First, the phone call of the dreaded “what if” and “I think it is, Oh Janae, what am I going to do?”
I remember hopping into the car with tears starting to flow, talking on the phone with her until I reached her, and we could cry together. Then the phone call one Friday morning soon after that confirmed the feared nightmare. Tony and I spent the entire day with Chris and Daryl crying and trying to encourage one another.
Everyone wants to say something nice and soothing, something that will bring comfort, like stating God’s promises. “God works all things out for good.” “She is in a better place now and we will get to see her again.”
I know I need to move my thoughts at some point toward more heavenly things. I know at some point, I need to trust God that He will bring good out of this deep sorrow and hole that is left. I need to trust God that He will fill in the gaps from the absent friendship, preschool teacher, daughter, sister, mother, and wife.
I think for now, though, I will focus on the fact that God did not promise to make everything rainbows and butterflies during our earth time, but He did promise to be here with us. “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
There will be times that just suck. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you” (Isaiah 43:2).
There will be times when we are facing death or walking very near to it. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
There will be times when I am weary and worn. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
The Bible is filled with these types of promises.
I have grown fond of the promise that God collects my tears. “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your record?” (Psalm 56:8). The thought of Him here with me somehow saving every tear is comforting. Perhaps a divine bottle is being held by an angel whose responsibility is to sit with me, collecting my tears, and then transport them to heaven.
Eventually, I will move toward other promises of God, but for now, I have a few more tears to add to my Daryl collection.
(This is a repost from 2012. The above was written one year into the middle of grieving the passing of my friend, Daryl Cahill. The idea of God keeping track of all our tears is still fascinating. I could never have imagined how many more tears I would shed on her behalf when I wrote this.)
Meditation: God will comfort me.
Reflect: What do you think God does with our tears? Why do you think tears are important to Him? How do you handle grief? Can you sit with God and allow Him to help you work through any sadness you may be feeling right now? Why do you think it is vital for us to process our emotions?
Digging Deeper: Psalm 42; Psalm 56:8-13; 1 Peter 5: 6-11
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BLOG SCHEDULE: Please enjoy hope every Monday this summer with a concise, creative burst through Pict Posts or with the reposting of previous blogs now with an audio option. A new series of devotional-style blogs will begin this Fall. God’s Word Gives Hope is committed to bringing inspiring, practical messages from the Bible into your life. Check this one out. Helpless To Helped.