Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Week Forty-Three - Tears

“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”  Psalm 56:8
This is another of my favourite Scriptures.  God keeps my tears in His bottle.  He stores them up.  They are precious and valuable to Him.
Shedding tears is not something most of us relish.  We associate them with pain and disappointment.  That is true is so many instances, but tears are also the sign of a tender heart.  Psalm 51:17 says,  “a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”  God knows that our hearts will break.  He even desires that our hearts be broken for Him.  Tears are a natural product of a broken heart.
Tears are also a release.  Nervous tension along with negative chemicals and toxic substances from our bodies can be released as the tears flow.  I have known times when I knew I just needed to get to a quiet and private place to simply shed a few tears, be alone with the Lord, and regain focus and strength. Holding back tears only increases tension.  
If you do a bit of study on tears you will find that it is one of the things that makes us truly human.  77% of crying takes place in the home.  15% at work or in the car.  40% of people weep alone.  88% feel better after a cry.  The average woman cries 47 times each year.  The average man has only 7 crying episodes per year.
No matter what your pattern for crying, it is a God-given quality and one that God is not ashamed of – so neither should you be.  God sees your tears; he stores them up and records them. They have a God-given purpose.

“Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy…”  II Timothy 1:4

My daughter used to say that the missionary life was a life of good-byes.  Every time she made a friend, it wasn’t long before life would take them apart – sometimes never to be seen again.  Such a life can harden you.  Instead of making friends you move from acquaintance to acquaintance without forming any emotional attachment. 
Those involved in ministry know the strength and comfort that is drawn from those who likewise serve others.  Few and far between are the friends who truly understand the pressures, heartaches, and hopeful anticipation that goes along with full time service.  When such a friend is found there is formed an amazing bond.  Such was the bond between Paul and Timothy.  Parting, even for a time of ministry, was faced with tears. 
“Henry Brooks Adams wrote, "One friend in a life is much, two are many, three are hardly possible." It is true that finding a good friend is difficult and becoming more difficult all the time. There are several things that hinder our desire for close friendships -
   the pace of life . . . we are too busy to nurture relationships
   the distractions of life . . . television, the Internet, video games
   the mobility of life . . .people move frequently from job to job and location to location
   the isolation of life . . .we spend much time at computers and in front of boxes which provide no interaction at all.
the cynicism of life . . . we distrust people and so we are reluctant to let our guard down.”                                              (Bruce Goettsche)
So – Do you form solid and strengthening bonds or are you allowing the things of this life to keep you in shallow relationships?  Would you shed tears if your friends went away – even for a few months?  Or, would you not even notice they were gone?  If so, what does that say about the depth of the relationships you are forming?

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”  Mark 9:24 
Such a sad story  - a parent helpless to find the answer to his child’s torment.  As he approaches the Saviour he is faced with a direct challenge to his faith – “If thou cast believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”  With tears the father cries out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
Have you ever been to that place?  The place where you have exhausted all of your effort only to find yourself face to face with the realization that Christ is directly challenging your faith?  The place where instead of being allowed to ask if Christ can do anything, he turns it on you and puts to you the question of your own faith?  Do you believe firmly enough?  Has it brought you to tears to realize that your belief might have holes?
This is where the father stands – keenly aware that though he believes, somewhere in the recesses of his heart there might be a place of doubt.
It is good to note that the father did not say, “I believe; now help my child.”  Or, “I believe; cast out this devil from my child.”  No, he understood that his own unbelief was harder to overcome than the demon and that to heal him of his personal spiritual malady was a more needful work than even to heal his child.  This is the understanding of the father and the sign of his true faith.  He believed there was no deficiency in Christ, no lack of power or unwillingness to save.  Tearfully he acknowledged that all the hindrance lay in his personal unbelief.
This is where we must arrive if we are to claim the promise Christ gave – “all things are possible to him that believeth.”  Are you there?

“Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews…”
 Acts 20:19  
The tears of Paul are oft recorded.  In Acts 20:31 he says for three years he did not stop warning day and night with tears and in II Corinthians 2:4 he speaks of the great anguish of heart as he wrote with tears to the believers.  As he speaks of the care of the churches in II Corinthians 11:28 one would have to assume that many tears were shed as he sought to equip these saints. 
When commenting on Acts 20:19 Brown says, “He "sowed in tears," from anxieties both on account of the converts from whom he "travailed in birth," and of the Jews, whose bitter hostility was perpetually plotting against him, interrupting his work and endangering his life.”  Tears were incorporated in the service of the Lord for the Apostle Paul, and, yes, for most all who seek to serve the Lord.
Tears in the ministry are the result of many things.  Our hearts break as we see the burden other believers carry.  We weep with those who are broken hearted, disillusioned and in need of comfort.  We weep, as we feel helpless to create change. We weep over the failures of others and over those who go against God’s mandates.   We also weep over our own failures and inadequacies.  Tears are a part of the ministry.
Tears are not a sign of weakness, but of the depth of our sincerity and humility in service.  Tears, as a result of the service of the Lord, put us in good company.  Jeremiah was known as the Weeping Prophet.  Joseph, Jacob, David and Jonathan all wept.  Ezra, Job and Isaiah wept.  Jesus wept. 
What about you?  Are tears a part of your service?  Is your heart tender enough to weep for others?  Or are you hardened?
 “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and  shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:17

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  Revelation 21:4
Tears will end – they are a part of this temporal life only.  And, the things that create tears – death, sorrow and pain – will also end. 
Matthew Henry explains, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. They have formerly had their sorrows, and shed many tears, both upon the account of sin and affliction; but God himself, with his own gentle and gracious hand, will wipe those tears away, and they shall return no more for ever; and they would not have been without those tears, when God comes to wipe them away. In this he deals with them as a tender father who finds his beloved child in tears, he comforts him, he wipes his eyes, and turns his sorrow into rejoicing. This should moderate the Christian's sorrow in his present state, and support him under all the troubles of it; for those that sow in tears shall reap in joy; and those that now go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.” 

So let’s shed all the tears necessary to bring souls into the fold, to minister to the saints, and to bear the burdens of this life – rejoicing that one day there will be no more crying.

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