This morning in my weekly clergy gathering our scripture was Psalm 56. It is a Psalm of lament as the writer is besieged by many all around. Yet, the writer still knows in the midst of it all that God is greater. One of the lines that stands out for me is verse 8: “You yourself have kept track of my misery. Put my tears into your bottle—aren’t they on your scroll already?”
When I was in Jordan, there were women at some of the places we visited selling tear jars. (pictured above) For them it was the cry of lament they raised against the violence they were experiencing from so many places. The women were connecting back to the promise of the Psalm that God knows our tears and will receive them and keep them. The tears that were shed in their pain are kept sacred by God.
While remembering the tear jars, I came across a blog by Patricia M. Robertson who describes that she blogs for: “Writing words of hope to those who have given up on their dreams or misplaced them…Patricia writes for ordinary people, living extraordinary lives.” In her blog on Psalm 56 she writes, “What a wonderful image of God collecting all of our tears in a bottle where they may be safely preserved. Our God is not uncaring, watching people from afar, but actively involved in people’s lives. God know our sorrow and pain, our anger and frustration…how precious in the eyes of the Lord are the tears of God’s people. God catches everyone!”
In these confounding wilderness days that we find ourselves in, I am deeply comforted knowing God keeps all our tears sacred. When we grieve the many losses from COVID-19, God holds our tears. When we cry in anger over the sins of racism, God holds our tears. Knowing this, our tears become calls to action. As God receives them, we are given comfort, but also given a way to follow God’s mandate to us—go out to the world to be the presence of Jesus Christ.
And so we go in the shedding tears that compel us to action. Knowing the assurance found at the close of Psalm 56: “God: whose word I praise. The Lord: whose word I praise. I trust in God; I won’t be afraid. What can anyone do to me? I will fulfill my promises to you, God. I will present thanksgiving offerings to you because you have saved my life from death, saved my feet from stumbling so that I can walk before God in the light of life.”
God is with us!