“Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll – are they not in your record?” (Psalm 56:8).
How do you see God? Sadly, far too many of us see Him as some distant deity, a “blind watchmaker,” disengaged from His creation and uninterested in them individually. Yet this verse makes it crystal clear that nothing could be further from the truth. Several of the best Bible translations render the middle section of Psalm 56:8, “Put my tears in your bottle.” Now, how is that for cosmic compassion?!
How blessed we are to have a God who is not like some cosmic computer that cannot relate to us personally, emotionally and spiritually. Sure, a cosmic computer could provide us with some incredible information, but it would be completely incapable of connecting with us at a heart level, which is the level where we need connection most.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews offers us this wonderful encouragement: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
David knew this truth. He knew it when he was facing the giant Goliath; he knew it when he was hounded by the ungodly king Saul. David also knew God’s cosmic compassion when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan. To be sure, God sent Nathan to rebuke David for his terrible sin with Bathsheba and against her husband. But that conviction did not come without God’s love; in fact, it was God’s compassion, mercy and grace that would not leave David in his sin, but sent Nathan to prompt David’s repentance and to deliver him from himself.
There is a brief passage in Matthew’s gospel that we might read through quickly and miss its significance. “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:35-36).
Have you ever felt “harassed and helpless,” buffeted by circumstances beyond your control, with no shepherd to guide you? And did you perhaps believe that God took no notice or that He was displeased with you and was standing aloof, allowing you to sink beneath the waves of adversity? Look at Matthew’s account again; he observed that Jesus had compassion on the people. The Greek word that the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to use means far more than that Jesus simply “felt sorry” for them. It describes a deep, visceral feeling of pity and sorrow; quite literally, Jesus was so moved by the plight of humanity that He felt it in the pit of His stomach! An uninterested deity? A blind watchmaker? Hardly!
Think about all of the tears you have shed during your life. God has collected every one of them in His bottle. He is keeping a record of every tear in His scroll, which means your pain is NOT unnoticed and NOT without purpose. Every tear you shed is being used by God in the process of your sanctification — growing you up into Christ. Not a single tear falls to the ground because your loving heavenly Father is standing by your side, collecting each and every one of them.
Here is what I believe will take place on that great and final day: Jesus will hand you the bottle He collected, filled with all your tears, and you, like the sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:38, will worship your loving Lord by pouring your bottle of tears out over His nail-scarred feet, knowing that these will be the last tears you will ever see.
Remember, we have been given the promise that Jesus will wipe away every tear, and we will live in a place where there will be no more sorrow, no more pain and no more death. We will have finally entered into our eternal rest, where Jesus, who is seated on the throne, has made everything new, and that includes you.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that…Amen!
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.