Posted by: mikenicholsblog | August 30, 2012

when the next tear falls

Everywhere I looked this week, pain or hurt has draped the landscape. And it just kills me when I can’t turn the clouds to sunshine and make everything right. As you have scanned the horizons this week, you may have also wanted to reach out and give someone a hug and tell them everything will be better. Life will always have pain, disappointment and hurt that we can’t heal. And in those times (like this week), knowing that God really does care brings peace like nothing else can.  Please accept my weak (at best) attempt to convey His care.

It was about three years ago now when I had one of those I’ve never seen that before moments. The author was referencing a Scripture passage that conveyed the Father gathering tears in a bottle. How could I have never seen, or remembered reading that verse? An adventure of understanding Psalm 56:8 began.

The text of Psalm 56 takes us to a time when David was seized by the Philistines at a place called Gath. Even a quick read of the chapter will paint a portrait of the dire straits he was facing. Men were pursuing him, mercy was needed and yet his words showed great trust. But what about those tears in a bottle?

Psalm 56:8 (ESV)
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?

From the masterful work of Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David we find words about the tears and the bottle.

“The custom in old times was, when a person was ill or in great distress, for his friends to go see him, and take with them a tear bottle. Then, as the tears rolled down the cheeks of the sufferer, they were caught in these bottles, sealed up, and preserved as a memorial of the event.”

Great care was shown for the sufferer. Greater care is shown by the Father when tears flow. He is aware of how we feel. David would have understood tear bottles and how they were used. Let your mind’s eye view a portrait of David in great difficulty, with tears running down his face. In my view of the portrait, I can picture God’s tear bottle catching each drop. Understanding all the riches of Psalm 56:8 would take more than a brief post.  However, viewing the landscape of God’s care is easily seen.

Can you relate to tossing and turning through a sleepless night? Have you ever had tears fill your eyes when pain or emotion overtook logic? In those moments, how did you view the Father’s care? Although you and I may have great security in our relationship with the Lord, often in those tear bottle moments we don’t picture the Father’s care. The pain and hurt overwhelm us. But viewing the landscape of David’s difficulty from a slightly different angle gives us the dimension of depth that can be gleaned from David’s life. I can see tears, a tear bottle and trust. Let the Word from Psalm 56:3-4 complete the picture.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I
trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

In the most difficult of times, even when tears may flow and sleep may be hard, David has given us two fresh brush strokes that can be used on the canvas of our lives. Trust Him when logic would say otherwise, and praise when fear would be the normal response. Embrace the current landscape of your journey by realizing that David’s example can be followed. And never forget the truth that in your tear bottle moments, God cares deeply for you.

When the next tear falls from your eyes, remember the tear bottle, and that He cares!


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