“Pain became the pathway by which He drew near. And as I saw Him, my faith enlarged, knowing that this same Presence and Comfort would be available each day anew. The power of His personal appearance transforms us from within, resulting in a greater change than merely removing unpleasant circumstances. Faith grows as I see Him. Sometimes only tears can wash my eyes enough to notice.” — personal journal 2004
Since there will be no more tears in heaven, I used to assume something was wrong with life when I cried. In truth, tears are necessary for spiritual growth. Like the old hymn says: “He washed my eyes with tears that I might see.” Over the years, I’ve realized a few things about crying:
- God values tears — Although onlookers would envy the alabaster vial, it was the woman’s tears that Jesus noticed. Her hair continually wiped Christ’s feet, but her tears, not the perfume, washed them. Her penitent tears proved her profound love (Luke 7:36-50). A 17th-century English theologian put it succinctly, “Her tears…were more worth than her spikenard” (Abraham Wright, in “A Practical Commentary or Exposition upon the Book of Psalms,” 1661).
- Tears afford regular cleansing — According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), every individual makes between 15 to 30 gallons of tears annually. Emotional tears have a higher protein content than those produced from irritants and flush out our hormones. Only God could create such a necessary and beautiful purifying system.
- Tears fortify our prayers — The “prince of preachers,” Charles Spurgeon (who often struggled with bouts of depression), deemed crying as “liquid prayer.” He especially loved Psalm 126: 5-6, which speaks of going “to and fro weeping, carrying (a) bag of seed.” “This scripture,” Spurgeon states, “teaches us that there are spiritual breakthroughs with a heart that is broken before God. And this brokenness, together with our tears, will produce a spirit of joy, gladness, and rejoicing. In the process, our tears act like seeds that are planted.” I pray I’ll be able to keep God’s seed-Word close by each time I’m sorrowful.
- Tears fertilize His Word — Psalm 126:5 also encourages me not to wait until the tears stop to sow God’s Word. In my estimation, this is poor timing and proves an ineffective farming method, but once again, God reveals His love for opposites. Just as only the broken seed bears fruit, the tearfully planted ones yield the best. Tears of pain prove the best fertilization for growing fruit of the Spirit.
- Tears are noticed and recorded by God — “You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8 NLT). Like the ancient lachrymatory bottle used to accumulate the tears of mourners, God has His own collection vessel. If indeed our annual production can be measured in gallons, our attentive Father must have a vat set aside for most women. And He not only collects them but tallies their amount. Indeed, He is “intimately acquainted with all (our) ways” (Psalm 139:3).
P.L. Tan recounts a beautiful illustration of the value of tears. Early one morning in Snowdown, Wales, Rev. Newman Hall gathered with a hundred and twenty others to await a splendid sunrise. As the sun blanketed the mountains and lake with divine glory, Reverend Hall found himself overcome with God’s exquisite dawn. Although asked to preach, Newman found all he could offer was a tear-filled prayer to his Creator. As he prayed, an unearthly stillness fell upon the group, and many joined him as he wept. In time, the gathering quietly descended the summit, and Dr. Hall returned to England.
Later, when revisiting this area, Newman Hall discovered that forty people believed in Christ that morning and had joined a neighborhood church. Hall objected, saying he had not offered a call to salvation but only a blubbering prayer of tears. “Yes,” the informant replied, “and more wonderful still, for they did not know a word you said. None of them could speak English, only Welsh.”
In times of sorrow, may we remember God’s evaluation of our weeping and take heart. Nothing is ever wasted in His economy. Not even our tears.