My husband, Daniel, has given me many gifts in the nine months we’ve been married, but one of the most gracious is the way he handles my tears.
Over the years I’ve prided myself in my ability to handle things pretty stoically, at least to all watching eyes. But somehow since saying, “I do,” I’ve found I’m much leakier than I used to be—perhaps because I’ve found in Daniel such a safe place.
One of my favorite images in the Psalms is the picture David paints in Psalm 56 of God collecting all our tears in a bottle. David was no stranger to sadness. For all that his life was charmed—what with giant killing and a promotion from shepherd to king—he still had plenty to feel down about along the way.
It seems significant that David wrote about God’s tear jar when he did: just after being rejected by two communities. First, by King Saul, whom David had served faithfully, both with his music and in battle, risking his very life only to be repaid with a spear aimed at his head. On the heels of that rejection came another one: this time from the Philistines, whom David had been fighting with side-by-side since his exile. It was in that moment of feeling alone that he cried out to God:
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
When I picture heaven, I envision one room that’s filled with shelf after shelf of jars—jars of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Each one is labeled with a name, and on the inside are all the tears that person sheds during his or her time on earth.
Something I love about the tear jar image is what it says about God’s view of our suffering. He doesn’t tell us to suck it up; he doesn’t instruct us to plaster a fake smile on our faces; he doesn’t wag his finger and rebuke us for being babies. He tenderly collects every tear, validating each stab of pain we feel. No teardrop is too bitter. No sorrow too small. Each one is lovingly guided into the jar.
When Daniel and I first got married, I found myself frequently apologizing for my tears. Especially when they felt weak or unnecessary or just plain silly. But each time Daniel would put his arms around me and find the nearest napkin or paper towel or sleeve to wipe my runny mascara. Then he’d say, “You don’t have to be sorry. The Daniel-and-Stephanie team is okay with tears.”
God’s team, gratefully, is the same. The jars in heaven with your name on it is proof.
“Where there are tears, we should pay attention.”
I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.