“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” (Psalm 56:8)
This world is full of a lot of pain and suffering that leads us to shed tears from time to time. Our American masculinized culture looks down on those who shed tears, stigmatizing those who do cry as somehow weaker than those who portray a false of strength by refusing to cry. Crying is a natural human emotion, and Jesus is aware of our tears and our suffering that prompts those tears. God is intimately aware of all our tears, even storing up those tears in his bottle and noting them in his book. Jesus is not aloof to our suffering that causes us to shed tears, but he is intimately aware of every single one of those tears and has made provision that ultimately God himself will wipe away all tears from our eyes in heaven.
King David poured out his heart to the reader very often in the psalms. He intimately describes his suffering which causes him to shed many tears in his life. Here in Psalm 56, David had been taken by the Philistines in Gath and feared for his life, and no doubt he shed many tears during that time. David takes comfort in the fact that God is intimately aware of his suffering. God “tellest my wanderings”; God is aware of where I am right now among the Philistines, even in the midst of his enemies. David also took comfort in the intimacy of God’s knowledge of his suffering and his tears. God was intimately aware of every single tear David shed in his life, and every tear he cried during this trying time too.
It was a great consolation to David in the midst of his weeping time that God put all of his tears in “thy bottle”. God has a bottle of all the tears of his people; he does not miss one single tear that we cry. No tear goes unnoticed by our loving God. This bottle was probably not a glass bottle that we might think of today. It was probably similar to a “wine skin”, a leather bag for holding liquids or primarily for holding wine. Not only does God put our tears in “his bottle” but he also makes note of our tears in “his book”. Every single one of our tears has a notation in God’s book. We don’t know much about this book other than the fact that God makes notes in his book for every one of our tears. God knows every tear that we have cried in this world so that also every one of those tears individually shall be wiped away from our eyes in heaven by our God.
Tears and crying have been a common refrain for God’s children in the word of God and in our lives as well. Job poured out his eyes in tears unto God during his intense suffering. “My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.” (Job 16:20) King David again expresses his tears during his suffering. He cried so much that his bed was so wet that he felt he could swim in his bed from his tears. “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.” (Ps. 6:6) Another psalmist lived on his tears like meat day and night when he was persecuted by scoffers around him. “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” (Ps. 42:3)
Jeremiah is oftentimes called “the weeping prophet”. Jeremiah did reference crying and weeping very often in his writings and he had many reasons to cry with both prophesying and witnessing the destruction of Jerusalem. He said in his lament over Jerusalem: “Mine eyes do fail with tears” (Lam. 2:11). Also, consider these verses where Jeremiah is continually referencing his weeping and crying – Jer. 9:1,18; Jer. 13:17; Jer. 14:17; Lam. 1:2; Lam 2:11,18. The repentant sinner woman wept so profusely over her sins she washed the feet of Jesus with her tears (Luke 7:36-50) Paul wept over his letter to the Corinthian church because he had to rebuke the church so harshly (2 Cor. 2:4). Many other examples could be given in scripture of God’s people being moved to tears in their suffering. There are also some examples in scripture – and in our lives as well – where we shed tears of joy, but I believe much more often we shed tears in the midst of suffering in our lives.
In our American masculinized culture, we tend to look down on showing emotion and shedding tears. It is negatively stigmatized that those who do cry are somehow weaker than those who portray a false of strength by refusing to cry. We glamorize those who don’t cry as being “tough”. Not crying doesn’t make anyone tough. Crying and tears is a natural human emotion, and Jesus is aware of our tears and our suffering that prompts those tears. There is no need to suppress that natural human emotion that God gave us. Sometimes there is nothing more therapeutic than just having a good long cry and getting all that bottled up emotion out. We want to bottle up those tears inside of us instead of letting them out, but instead we need to let those tears out and let God put them in his bottle. Don’t keep those tears in your bottle, let your tears out for God to put them into his bottle.
Jesus Christ knows what pain and suffering feels like as a man. Jesus knows the stress and pain that leads to crying. Actually, Jesus endured a greater burden than we could ever imagine as he was prepared to bear the wrath of a holy God to pay for the sins of God’s elect. The weight of the task on Jesus’ horizon was so great that his “soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matt. 26:38). It was probably in this context that Jesus “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears” unto God (Heb. 5:7). Therefore, Jesus understands when we go through periods of “strong crying and tears” as well. Jesus wept when his beloved friend, Lazarus, died (John 11:35). Jesus knows, as the son of man, what it is to hurt and suffer and lose a loved one and to cry. That is why Jesus can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities because he knows crying, tears, and pain (Heb. 4:15). We know that Jesus intimately knows our earthly pain, and therefore we can come boldly before his throne of grace to obtain mercy and to help in time of need.
Jesus sees every one of our tears, especially when we follow Jesus’ example of praying so earnestly that tears accompany our prayer. God heard the fervent prayer of Hezekiah when he prayed and saw his tears and was gracious to answer his prayer and add to him 15 more years to live. “Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.” (Isaiah 38:5) God hears our prayers in a special way when they are accompanied by tears. Sometimes we are so burdened in prayer that we cannot pray for what we ought or even properly articulate the heavy burdens of our heart. We cannot say any words, all we can do is cry before the Lord in prayer. It is when we kneel crying and speechless before God in prayer that “the Spirit helps our infirmities…and maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26) The Spirit presents our weary, burdened prayers before God the Father perfectly according to the will of God. God makes special note of those “teary-eyed prayers” in his book of remembrance.
God gives us deliverance from our tears. “For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” (Ps. 116:8) We will not cry forever. Those who sow in tears, shall ultimately reap in joy. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Ps. 126:5) We’re not supposed to live our entire life crying in this world, but when we do cry, take hope that we shall eventually reap in joy at a later date. The hope of the gospel is so strong that it can even quench our tears in the midst of unspeakable tragedy. God gives comfort for the grieving mothers who just had their little babies murdered by Herod to refrain their tears from bitter weeping because of the hope that their children were in heaven with the Lord. “Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.” (Jer. 31:16) The hope of heaven gives us a reason to refrain from weeping and tears in this world.
As long as we are in this world, tears are an inevitable part of our existence. We endure suffering, sorrow, pain, and death which cause us to weep in our lives. When we are finally in heaven, there will not only be “no tears”, but there will be no source that have caused our tears either – no death, no sorrow, no pain, and therefore no more crying. “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.” (Rev. 21:4) It is not just that we won’t cry in heaven, but that God will personally wipe away all tears from our eyes. It is as if the hand of God will personally touch our cheek and wipe away every single tear that are remnants of this broken world.
God keeps our tears in his bottle and in his book right now. Praise God there will come a time when that bottle will be emptied out and the book of our tears will be put away! There is no need for a memorial of our tears in heaven. That bottle of our tears will be emptied out, and God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. Any tears we shed in this world have been taken away by the blood of the Lamb in heaven. What a happy, exciting thought, to dwell in a perfect land where there is no death, no sorrow, no crying, and no pain! We can’t comprehend such perfect bliss because our life here on earth is characterized by those things that cause us to cry. There is coming a day when all tears shall be wiped away, and the bottle and book of our tears is extinguished as we dwell in the land of perfect bliss with our God for all eternity! Amen!