So many tears, so much grace

It was a tough day. In the morning, I put my face on the carpet and prayed, but my heart was so heavy that my prayers were mostly groans, wordless sighs. In the afternoon, I spent time with three elderly Christians; one, in her 90’s, fell at home last week. She is so fearful of not being able to return to her home. We cried together. Another, in the grip of dementia, was in her bed at the home where she lives. When I entered her room, her face brightened. “I like seeing you,” she said kindly, though I do not think she knows my name. She held my hand tightly as we prayed. The third awaits death, confined by weakness. Tears fell down her cheeks as we asked the Lord to be her peace. Another family talked about spiritual crisis in their child’s life reinforcing my deep concern for how we, Christ’s Church, are handing off the faith to the next generation.
brokenThe Psalmist cries to the Lord: “You have fed us with sorrow and made us drink tears by the bucketful.” (Psalm 80:5, NLT) “My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.” (Psalm 42:3-6, NIV)  That’s NOT just beautiful poetry!  Those prayers are mine! With great hope I cry out, “Restore our fortunes, O LORD… Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Psalm 126:4-5, NIV)

Do not confuse sorrow with despair. There is a difference! Despair is hopelessness, but deep sorrow is a fertile place where faith can grow, where God can be found. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, NLT)  I love the Hebrew in that passage. Where we read ‘crushed’ the word means ‘turned to dust.’  Yes, sorrow grinds us down, but God makes beautiful things from the dust, as the song says.

There is so much suffering in this world which is so broken by sin. But, we know that God sent His Son Jesus to save us- from our sins and from the destiny of destruction. And, when His kingdom comes, tears will dry. When the struggle’s over, God will draw us close!  “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:3-5, NIV) Oh, happy day!

Are you crying? Is your heart broken? The natural response is to find some diversion, some way to avoid sorrow. Instead, let yourself feel the suffering and enter into it with Christ at your side.

Don’t try to numb your soul by turning up the noise or burying yourself in pleasure. Those things offer no balm for the soul. Instead, wait on God. Sit quietly. Let tears flow. Accept the love of friend and family, even from those who offer clichés and pats on the back. Perhaps they have never hurt in the way that you do but they mean well. Pray for protection from cynicism that turns people into ugly, self-absorbed, and mean being!

Suffering can make us into beautiful people; full of grace, tender, and with an other-worldly grip on eternity. I smiled as one of the women with whom I was visiting said, “You are a much better Pastor these days. You know how we feel when we are sad.” I hope she speaks the truth.  My own spiritual journey has taken me through some dark valleys.

And remember …  “He will wipe every tear from our eyes. Gordon Jensen wrote a song with this memorable line, “God weeps along with man and takes him by the hand, tears are a language God understands.”   Are the tears ready to fall today?  Has the disappointment, the pain, the unrelenting struggle with the curse of sin nearly broken you in two?  Find a place alone with Him and let the tears fall, each a wordless prayer for renewal of hope, for healing, for forgiveness.  Then, with courage, give yourself, your situation, your life, your kids- to the Lord who reigns over all. He will give you the grace you need, for this day.  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, NLT)

_______________

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness,

O God, my Father.

There is no shadow

Of turning with Thee.

Thou changest not,

Thy compassions they fail not.

As Thou hast been

Thou forever wilt be!

 

Summer and winter

And springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon, and stars

In their courses above;

Join with all nature

In manifold witness,

To Thy great faithfulness,

Mercy and love!

 

Pardon for sin

And a peace that endureth;

Thy own dear presence

To cheer and to guide.

Strength for today

And bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine

With ten thousand beside!

 

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning,

New mercies I see.

All I have needed,

Thy hand hath provided.

Great is Thy faithfulness,

Lord, unto me!

Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William Marion Runyan

© Words: 1923. Renewed 1951 Hope Publishing Company

Music: 1923. Renewed 1951 Hope Publishing Company

CCLI License # 810055

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