Does God care about my feelings? – is a question I’ve wondered about over the years. Maybe you have, too. One thing that unites the human race is emotion. We all have the capacity to feel and express that emotion outwardly, be it through laughter, anger, tears or a myriad of other feelings.
I’ve gotten into rock painting lately, coming across a teardrop shaped rock perfectly suited for a certain scripture verse. So I painted it blue, inscribing Psalm 58:8 upon it, “God collects your tears.” I put it aside.
As life often imitates art, a very sad event occurred in my extended family recently, the untimely death of my nephew. Many tears were shed by all who knew and loved him, both family and friends.
Which caused me to think more deeply about Psalm 56, the entirety of verse eight reading, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”
What’s a tear bottle? I wondered. Is this a metaphor or does God really collect my sadness?
So being the inquisitive researcher that I am, I looked it up.
The allusion is to lachrymatories, or tear bottles, a mourning tradition from Roman times in which surviving relatives dropped their tears for their deceased friends, and buried them with their ashes, or in their urns. A description given by Cotovicus relates that the grave of M. Tullius Cicero was dug up in the island of Zacynthus, A. D. 1544, and inside were found two glass urns; the larger had his ashes in it, the lesser water, the tears of his friends. It is believed the ancient Jews might have a similar custom based on this saying,
“whoever sheds tears for a good man (deceased) the holy blessed God numbers them, and puts them into his treasures, according to Psalm 56:8.”
So what does the metaphor mean?
The collection reference is to funeral tears, meaning that God would take notice of David’s afflictions and troubles, which had caused so many tears, remember them, and deliver him out of them. That God keeps and preserves our tears is evidence of His tender nature and loving-kindness. Tears are collected not to make atonement for sin, nor to obtain heaven and happiness; for there is no comparison nor proportion between the sufferings of the saints and the glory that shall be revealed in them. But rather, according to Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, that they might be brought forth another day and shown, to the aggravation of the condemnation of wicked men, who by their ungodly actions, have caused them.
Verse eight asks, “Are they not in thy book?”
Yes, the tears and afflictions of God’s people are recorded. More from Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible:
They are in His book of purposes; they are all appointed by Him, their kind and nature, their measure and duration, their quality and quantity; what they shall be, and how long they shall last; and their end and use: and they are in His book of providence, and are all overruled and caused to work for their good; and they are in the book of His remembrance; they are taken notice of and numbered by him, and shall be finished; they shall not exceed their bounds. These tears will be turned into joy, and God will wipe them all away from the eyes of his people.
What a comforting promise!
I found it not coincidental that Kris Vallotton writes on his 9/27/17 blog, Prophetic Word for a New Season: Leaving Pain Behind: “But you have to leave pain so that you can get up and walk in breakthrough.”
I urge you to set aside time to invest in yourself by reading Kris’s post to learn how to leave pain and create a culture of wholeness around yourself. He provides several wise and insightful suggestions.
Personally, I’m in a new season of breakthrough in family relationships and it feels GREAT! One key I’ve learned and been tested in is to refuse offense. To remain tender-hearted toward those who have brought you that pain, is essential. Active forgiveness and refusal of offense is paramount to breakthrough.
“But I’ve heard that so many times, Kate,” you may be thinking.
Truth is truth. So you’ve heard it again. And you’ll keep hearing it until you pass the test.
Be blessed, friends.
Abba, our good Father sympathizes deeply with your pain and is a very present help for you. He has made a way of escape and is fighting for you behind the scenes as Exodus 14:14 describes. My prayer for you is to release faith and BELIEVE HIM! You are dearly loved and He notices your tears!