Friday, 3 June 2016

I Have Seen Your Tears

There is a lot of weeping in the Bible.

So much so, that when I was compiling five word Bible bits I got myself in to a bit of a muddle over when exactly God saw who crying! So yesterday, as I reflected, I looked up some Bible crying stories.

Hannah cries because she is barren; she desperately wants children. (1 Samuel 1:10)
Naomi and her daughters in law cry as they look at an uncertain, empty future. (Ruth 1:9)
Hagar cries because she is treated with jealousy and spite. (Genesis 21:16)
Israel cry out to God because they are suffering cruelty and injustice in a foreign land. (Exodus 3:7)
David weeps because he realises the weightiness of his sin. (2 Samuel 12:23)
Hezekiah weeps as he faces up to the reality of his own death. (2 Kings 20:5)
Peter weeps bitterly because he understands Jesus was right: he has denied his LORD. (Luke 22:62)
Mary weeps at the tomb, because her LORD has died, and she doesn't know where they have put him. (John 19:11)

Crying happens in the Bible. The phrase most often used seems to be, "wept bitterly". I know I've been there! That soul racking, utterly desperate, verge of despair weeping that consumes and exhausts? It happens in the Bible.

We live in a desperately sad, desperately broken world. Even Jesus weeps in the face of the brutal reality of death. I find it a great comfort to know that others have wept before me.

But the glorious truth of Scripture is that weeping is not the end of the story.

I have seen your tears.

The LORD of the universe sees our tears, and he cares enough to tell us! Yes, the one who made all those zillions of stars and those obscure fish that live so far in the depths of the sea no one can see them without one of those special UV cameras (#sciencewithphilippa)- He sees our tears. He cares about our crying!

And his seeing is not passive. How do we know? Because He tells his people: I have seen your tears. It's significant that He sees. He tells us he sees because he cares. It's reason for us to hope. But it also is evidence that He is going to act.

As these individuals weep bitterly, it feels like the end of the story. They weep so bitterly because it feels so desperate; it seems so impossible that there could be anything else beyond the misery of their current trauma.

It seemed like the end of the story, but the LORD...

... remembered Hannah and in due time she conceived a child.
... did not leave Naomi or Ruth without a Redeemer or a future, but provided Boaz.
... heard the voice of Ishmael crying and promised to make him a great nation.
... sent Moses to bring his people out of Egypt.
... forgave David and gave him Solomon.
... comforted Hezekiah and gave him 15 more years.
... restored Peter and made him the rock on which the church was built. He equipped him with such courage to proclaim him that he faced prisons, beatings and ultimately death for the glory of the Lord he'd once denied.
... raised Jesus from the dead. Mary, who was weeping soon becomes the first witness to the greatest redemptive miracle of history!

Of course, God saying, "I have seen your tears", does not necessarily mean that there will be immediate relief. But the pattern of Scripture that culminates in the resurrection of the Christ, reminds us that he knows, he cares, and that whatever we are going through, however bitter our tears are, if we are his- then our tears are not the end of the story.

"Weeping may last for a night, but joy will come in the morning."
Psalm 30:5

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