Tear Bottle of the Lord

Christianity is the religion of tears. Jesus Christ, Apostle Paul, and David were the people of tears (Hebrew 5:7; Acts 20:37; Psalm 6:6). David mentions in Psalm56 the Lord’s tear bottle: “You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?”(Psalm 56:8 KJV). The setting of this Psalm is David’s apprehension by Philistines in Gath. While in flight from Saul’s persecution, he was caught and assaulted by the Philistines. Even in such misfortune, David affirmed his faith and wrote Psalm 56.  That the Lord has taken account of David’s wanderings signifies that the Lord counted every tear and pain David shed and suffered. How comforting that is for us. It seems to me that David acquired his spiritual learning from the University of the Wilderness majoring in suffering. It must be remembered that even as we go through the valleys of tears and agony in life God causes the springs of  grace to gush forth and sweet rain to fall (Psalm 84:6).

In the ancient Israel, there was an interesting tradition concerning tears. Tears of sorrow and agony were collected in bottles of various shapes. Usually made of thin glass, these bottles ranged from just a few inches to eight inches in length. Because beautifully crafted glass bottles were expensive, the poor used clay bottles. It was customary for every family to have a tear bottle to gather tears they shed as unexpected tragedies befell them. At the time, the tear bottle was considered sacred and usually interred with the dead. It was regarded a shame to not be able to bury the tear bottle with the dead as a result of accidental spilling or breakage.

This tradition is now defunct among people. However, the Lord still retains the tradition of the tear bottle. He gathers and stores all our tears of agony and sorrow. In life’s trials and tribulations, we often feel left alone. Even then, God watches over us and protects us.  Let us not forget that. God uses our tears as spiritual food to feed us: “You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful” (Psalm 80:5). Scottish Minister Hugh Blair said “Graceful, particularly in youth, is the tear of sympathy, and the heart that melts at the tale of woe… we should accustom ourselves to think of the distresses of human, life, of the solitary cottage; the dying parent, and the weeping orphan.” Tears and compassion for others are essential for us Christians.

Tears relieve pain and bring about healing. Studies show that emotionally-driven tears unlike those caused by an external stimulus such as onion expels toxins from the body. In other words, tears remove toxins in our body.  The tears we shed when we hear the news of the death of our loved ones drive out the toxins and harmful chemicals generated by emotional traumas. Tears heal both the body and mind by creating two opposite effects. Ironically, they maximize the impact of positive emotions while minimizing the impact of negative emotions. Tears are the best means to express human emotions. Tears of sorrow cleanse us. They help us deal with emotional wounds and desperations. Tears of joy and happiness prolong positive emotions. Therefore, let us not be ashamed of tears.

God sees our prayer and tears (Isaiah 38:5; Job 16:20). Our sorrow and tearful prayer are recorded in the book of life in heaven (Psalm 56:8). We must shed tears for God’s callings as well (Luke 23:28). The Lord calls those who weep blessed (Luke 6:21). The value of tears is determined by for whom and for what we have shed them. There is a Jewish saying “There is a corner in heaven designated not for those who pray but for those who shed tears.” This illustrates how important it is to shed tears and have purified hearts and souls in life. As David’s prayer reveals, God puts our tears in the tear bottle. When we go to heaven, all our tears will be wiped away (Revelation 21:4; 7:17). May our tears shine brightly in heaven like a diamond.

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