“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

Today we are here with a heavy heart. We are here to grieve. We are here to cry. We are here to seek guidance from God to cope with the irreparable loss of our loved ones who went to be with the Lord. We are here completely blank not knowing what to do. We are here with questions which have no answers. Some pain and some losses don’t just “go away.” They linger. Old wounds can still produce new tears. It doesn’t take a fresh cut to feel the hurt. All it takes is a memory. Some people and you may know a few, don’t really understand that. In fact, some very well-intentioned friends or family might say, “You need to just get over it.” But there are some things you NEVER get over. You just find a way to get through them.

There are Three Types of Tears:

1. Basal Tears

Your eyes are constantly shedding basal tears even though you may not notice. These tears protect the cornea, and constantly lubricate the eye. When you experience dust, follicles, or debris in your eyes, the tears that appear to clear your eyes are called Basal tears.

2. Emotional Tears

These are the tears made when one is overcome with emotion. Scientists have found traces of stress chemicals that could mean that crying is a way of relieving stress. Additionally, some studies suggest that crying stimulates the body to produce endorphins which are known to be the feel-good chemical produced by the brain.

3. Reflex Tears

This type of tear is made in the lacrimal gland and is made up mostly of water. The body makes these tears as a reflex to a stimulus. For example: if a bug flies into your eye the eye tears to flush out the bug. Sometimes the eyes water and there isn’t anything in the eye to flush out.
In a context like what we are facing today, where we have lost many of our loved ones and a number of our colleagues and friends have been badly affected and battling with the Covid 19, it is the “emotional tear” which breaks us. While we shed these emotional tears, we are communicating messages to self, to the other and to God. In other words, tears are a mechanism or a tool which God has given to humankind to convey and communicate our hurt and pain, also joys and happiness when things are well. But now, we shed tears to communicate basically our grief, hurt and pain. There are three messages we communicate when we shed tears especially in traumatic situations:
1. Personal – I tell myself that “I am at my wits’ end. I am shattered and broken”.
2. Social – I tell the other that “I need your support; I am not able to move further; I feel so lonely and loneliness kills me”.
3. Theological:  I ask God, my Creator “Where are you God”?” Are you a myth? “Are you there”?” If so, where are you?”

Psalm 56 is a Psalm where the Psalmist sheds emotional tears. It is attributed to David and is traditionally associated with the time when he had fled from Saul and taken refuge among Israel’s enemies in the Philistine city of Gath. When the Philistines recognised him, his life was in danger. In the midst of pain, he trusts God.  That’s why I love this Psalm so much. It reminds us of how empathetic God is to our pain and how faithful God is to walk with us as our sadness lingers.   “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” God doesn’t tell us to just get over it. In fact, He saves the memory of each loss. He records them, so He never forgets them either.  He collects all our tears in His bottle. Let that image stay in your mind for a moment. When you weep, God isn’t telling you that big boys, big girls and adults don’t cry. He doesn’t question why you’re still crying over something that happened. Instead, He’s collecting each tear because your suffering is important to Him…precious to Him…sacred to Him. He still has the FIRST tear you cried over your loss. And He will have the LAST one. You see, God wasn’t just with you when you experienced that loss as it happened. He is with you as you experience it again and again…with every memory…every anniversary…every little thing that scratches the scar and nicks your heart and causes the tears to flow yet once again. He can collect the tears because He is THERE…for every single one.

So today, if something triggers an old pain for you, and you find yourself feeling a bit sad, lonely or blue, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not over it yet. You may never be. But you will get THROUGH. God is your Strength and your Comforter, and He will keep walking with you…step by step and day by day. Don’t worry about those tears. Tears are God’s way of helping you to let the sadness out so it doesn’t build up inside. Don’t be ashamed of them. They are good for you, even if they started a long, long time ago. Those tears are precious to God. He’s collecting every one of them in a bottle. He is saving them for a Special Day: The day that you and He will be able to pour them out together…in a place where there are no more tears, no more sorrow, and no more death. You’ll finally be healed. You’ll finally be whole. You’ll finally be Home. You are loved! (Rev.21:4)

Nancy Eisland in her book  The Disabled God reiterates the above truths when she rediscovered God as a “Crucified God”, a God who has been disabled and in pain. She realised afresh in the midst of her disability that God is with her in her pain because God is able to understand her pain because God Godself had experienced pain and it is this God’s grace which enables her to have a new perspective of life and thus move forward in the journey of life.

In the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, we read “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). These well-known words demonstrate the humanity of the Son of God who became flesh (John 1:14).These words comfort us as they point to the promise of Jesus’ compassionate presence with us in times of grief, turmoil and pain. Jesus wept with a bereaved family. Tears are powerful because tears enable us not just to cry over pain but to get through our pain.

Rev. Dr. M. Mani Chacko
General Secretary, Bible Society of India

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