from our partnerLightWorkers Guest
written bySheila Walsh
The church was almost empty now, and Barry was packing up a few things before we headed back to our hotel for the night, as it was getting late. After each speaking or teaching event, I try to stay as long as possible to listen to and talk with the women who have attended. Sometimes my transparency about different struggles in my own life opens up a door for them to share, perhaps for the first time, what they’ve been through. I don’t take this part of my life lightly. It’s sacred space.
As I listen, I see once again that Christ is such a wonderful redeemer, and none of our pain is wasted.
One woman was sitting alone in the very back pew. I didn’t want to assume that she was waiting to talk to me, but I didn’t want to leave without asking either. I slipped into the pew and asked her if she wanted to be alone. She said, “I am alone.” I asked if I might sit with her for a few moments, and she said yes. I won’t share her story—but some of what she was feeling may be true for you as well. She had been going through a painful situation for a long time, and she was worn-out. One thing she said pierced my heart. I’ve heard it so many times. She said, “No one knows the tears I’ve cried.” She said that she has friends who were very supportive in the beginning, but life goes on. “I can’t expect them to be there forever,” she said. It was the thought that no one knew the depth of her pain or the tears that flowed week after week and month after month that made her feel so alone.
There are times when I have no words. Some wounds are too deep for me to try to put words to and the reality is that although family and friends can share the burdens we carry, there are times when we find ourselves alone. I reached into my briefcase and found what I was looking for. It had been a gift from a friend a few years back. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what it was when I opened it. The small glass bottle was a beautiful cobalt blue, about two inches tall, covered in silver filigree. I thought it might be a perfume bottle, though a very small one, but her note explained that it was actually a tear bottle she’d found in a store in Israel.
I did a little research and discovered that tear bottles were common in Rome and Egypt around the time of Christ. Mourners would collect their tears as they walked toward the graveyard to bury their loved one, a tangible indication of how much that person was loved. When they reached the burial place, the bottle was placed inside as a testament to their love.
Sometimes women were even paid to follow the mourners and cry into such a vessel. Apparently, the more anguish and tears produced, the more important and valued the deceased person was perceived to be.
I placed the bottle in her hand and told her why I treasure it so much and always have it with me. It reminds me of a profound spiritual truth David wrote about in Psalm 56:8:
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
Even though David was in a desperate place, he found comfort in the fact that God saw everything he was going through and caught every single tear he shed. I love David’s confidence in the mercy and faithfulness of God. David knew without a doubt that Almighty God never misses a moment, a tear, or a sigh from any of His children. I encouraged my broken friend to pray through this psalm every day until it began to seep into the marrow of her bones.
You are not alone. God sees your tears. God captures every single one in His bottle. He alone knows the weight of what you carry. He will never leave you.