The amount of tragedy in the world can be really overwhelming at times.
This morning, I opened Facebook, and the first thing I saw was a post from my lifelong friends, Pat and Lorri Earles, who lost their son yesterday. I’m not exactly sure how old he was, but he was a very young adult, who was just starting a military career and had, what felt like, an entire life ahead of him.
Clay and I spent time with our dear friends, John and Roxanne Green, last week. They are our age. Married less than one year after us. Our kids are similar ages. Clay and John have been best friends since they were 10. Roxanne has been suffering from ALS for five years, and is mostly bedridden.
My close friend, Paige Landry, has been helping her husband, Graham, fight Adrenal Cancer for the past four years. They are being given fewer and fewer options for his treatment. They have 4 young girls.
A sweet friend from high school, Kelli Williams, has been fighting Rheumatoid Arthritis since she was 15. She now has a husband and 2 children, but there are many days that she can’t even get out of bed for the pain.
My precious friend, Robin Scherer, continues in her fight with migraines. She estimates she has spent nearly 70% of the past year in bed.
We have friends with prostate cancer, heart problems, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumors, sick children, sick husbands, sick wives. We have friends who have recently lost their children, their parents, their spouses. We are surrounded by people who lost everything is the recent flooding in Baton Rouge.
Families are broken. The world is in turmoil. Our country is divided. Christians all over the world are being persecuted. Killed. Beheaded.
As I stood at my coffee pot this morning, I just felt overwhelmed. As my coffee brewed, my tears flowed. And, as the faces of all these people I know who are suffering, flashed through my mind, I was reminded of this scripture…
Psalm 56:8, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”
For the last few months, I’ve been pondering this verse. Why would God put our tears in a bottle? Why would He tell me that He’s saving my tears. I’ve heard this all my life, but I’ve never really understood why this is important.
Am I really going to want to be reminded of my tears when I get to heaven? Or will I want to just leave this life behind and forget about all the pain. Why would He save my tears and then remind me of them when I’m with Him?
Well, after a few months of pondering this verse, the Holy Spirit softly answered me this morning.
As I stood all alone at my coffee pot, watching my coffee brew, with tears rolling down my cheeks, the Holy Spirit said to me,
“In order to catch your tears in my bottle, I have to be right here with you….close enough for those tears to fall into my hands as they roll off your cheek.”
What an amazing image!
I closed my eyes, put my face in my hands and bawled. I just bawled. And the entire time, I could see my Savior….my Jesus….my friend….holding my face in His hands and catching all those tears. He was right there with me. Filling up His bottle. Not one of them dropped to the floor. I could literally feel Him, y’all. He was so real.
When I was imagining what it would look like to be held by Jesus, the picture below came to my mind. Jennifer Doughty took this picture the day that so many friends came to our house to pray for Clay. I love it. It will forever be a cherished moment to me. We were surrounded by people in this moment. But, Clay just grabbed me and hugged me tight. He held me really close, to comfort me. To remind me how much he loves me. To make sure I knew he was there with me. And look, I’m holding a water bottle. I didn’t pay much attention to that before, but it jumped out at me today. It’s like a bottle of tears is there in the photo with us.
Even as I type these words to you, I’m seeing flashbacks in my mind of all the times that I have bawled my eyes out since May 2. Times when I was completely alone and just crying. And, every time, Jesus is right there. Holding my face to make sure He doesn’t miss one tear. He was with me. Leaning in and touching me.
Not standing at a distance and watching me. He is not removed. He is not cold.
He is leaning in. Leaning in to touch me and share my pain. Leaning in to catch my tears.
And He is leaning in to catch your tears today, too. Let them flow. Your tears and brokenness bring Him close to you. Your tears draw Him close. Close your eyes and imagine Him….the God who created the universe….leaning in, cupping your face in His hands and capturing every tear.
But, why does He save them? I think when we get to Heaven, those bottles of tears will be a reminder. A reminder that He never left us or forsook us. A reminder that He saw every moment of brokenness. A reminder that He was preparing a place for us in Heaven with Him and every tear, every heartache, every pain, was to prepare us for that place.
You might be like me, and feel like God will need an entire mansion just to hold your bottles of tears. Well, trust me. He’ll figure it out. He has room.
I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Psalm 56 today. David was under siege at the time he wrote this Psalm. So, you can imagine…he has reason for despair and anguish. I’m sure he is afraid for his life and, worse, afraid of what they might do to him if they let him live.
Although he is afraid, he declares that he will trust in the Lord. He declares that he will not fear what flesh can do to him. His hope is in God. His trust is in God. He declares that the vow of God is upon him. He is praising God and thanking God. But in the middle of all of his declarations and praise, we find verse 8, in which he admits that he is crying tears.
We have much to learn from David. He suffered a tremendous amount of pain, and because he recorded it, we get the benefit of learning from him.
In the midst of his anguish and tears, he encouraged himself in the Lord. This is how we can cry tears, feel pain, feel sorrow, but not be overcome by it. We must encourage ourselves in the Lord.
Here is how it happens….
We feel sorrow. We cry. Jesus comes close to catch our tears. We feel Him. We are reminded of what a great God He is. Our heart is encouraged because He is near. We tell Him how much we love Him for being close. We are reminded of all His promises and vows over our life. We praise Him for who He is. And, suddenly, we are smiling and our hearts are glad because He is such a great God.
I love how David closes this chapter in verse 13.
“For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”
God has already delivered our souls from death. He did that on the cross and the day that we accepted Him as our Savior. What else could we need? Our soul lives! Death can not hurt us. The grave can not keep us. We have nothing to fear. And, if he delivered our soul from death, which is the greatest miracle ever, can we not trust Him to keep our feet from falling? We are going to walk before God in the light of the living.
Another version says “in the light of life,” and another says “in your life-giving light.” However you interpret these last words, they certainly mean that we can walk in God’s presence. Both here on earth and one day in Heaven.
How could we be depressed or sad if we focus our thoughts on this?
As we live this tragic life, we can walk in God’s presence. And, at the end of this tragic life….we will see God. Our faith will become sight. Thank you, Jesus!
I pray that today, in the midst of your own trials, that you can cry out to Jesus. Let Him lean in to you and catch your tears. Then, praise Him for who He is and be encouraged by His promises. I pray you are uplifted at the thought of how He can comfort us and lift us out of despair. Thank Him for His goodness today.