“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Psalm 56 v 8.
Imagine what such a book would look like: it would be a huge heavy tome for there is a lot to cry for in this world we live in. It would be meticulously detailed for God sees the tears that no one else does. It would be well worn for such is the compassion of God that he would leaf through it regularly. And if you’re a Christian and part of God’s family it would have a page in it with your name written at the top, written in the same handwriting that wrote the Ten Commandments, for the author of this book of tears is God.
Underneath would follow a note of the first time you cried and then every single instance from then until now. Not a single tear would be unrecorded, in fact, if you think about it, this book would contain records you no longer remember but what passes from your memory does not pass from God’s. How little do you grasp this: that when you’re upset God cares, he cares so much that he writes it all down so he will not forget the troubles you face and the sorrow you feel in your heart. The least of all your tears are in his book; how much more the tears you shed over greater things.
As you flick through your pages you would likely find that the frequency of your tears increases. For Jesus Christ was a ‘man of sorrows, familiar with suffering’ (Isaiah 53:3) and the more we grow to be like Christ the more we fill find our compassion increases and the more the evil of this world and of sin will increase.
You flick on more pages and you find that you started crying over new things. Whereas before only deep distresses resulted in weeping you see the first time you wept over a sin you never cared about before, the first time the state of the lost moved you to cry, the first time your heart was so enlarged with love that the suffering of another caused you to shed tears for such was fitting.
Next to every record of every sadness and grief in your life there would be a reference to John 11v35: “Jesus wept.” The shortest verse in the Bible and yet one of the most moving for it would remind you that through in every suffering you went through then Jesus Christ was there, weeping with you, moved by his compassion and love to hold you close to him as you went through hardship. For God is not untouched by the plight of his people, his love is too great for that, for if he makes a record of their suffering how much more will he act on his people’s behalf.
The more you read through this vast book of weeping the more a thought takes a hold: all these tears were in response to God’s providence. Every suffering, every cry of an anguished heart, every tear shed for evil and injustice, pain and sorrow, loss and grief, all of it from the sovereign hand of God. The record of tears is a record of the afflictions God sends on his people. And as you look at your page and relive every tear you are forced to ask why God would do such a thing as to make you weep as you did.
Then you will remember the words in Hebrews: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?...No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”(Hebrews 12 v 7 & 11) and as you think back to all the tears you have shed you will remember the good that came from it, the new desires for God they excited, the fuller realization of the vanity of this world they brought, the temptations they prevented you from falling to and the lusts of your heart they helped kill. You will trace a finger down the record of your every tear and you will realize that God has done you no wrong, no, more so: surely goodness and mercy have followed you all the days of your life! (Psalm 23 v 6)
Indeed, as you flick through page after page of suffering you will find an exclamation on your lips to the depths of the love of God that he should bring so much good from evil. You will find yourself humbled by the stubbornness of your heart that you had to go through so much to be made that little bit more holy. And like Job you would have to bow before the great sovereign God who laid the foundations of the earth and does as he pleases.
And what pleased him was to keep a record of your every tear so that he might never forget. If you are reading this and feeling like the only fitting thing to do is to weep for the sin in your heart, the troubles of life or the plight of the lost then take heart, your Father God has recorded your distress, he has bottled up your tears, he knows, he cares, he offers you comfort and he will sanctify every tear to you. Courage, not lightly does God spill the tears of his people, it is always out of love and for good never evil.
For despite the length of the book, despite the myriad of sufferings and grieves recorded therein, despite all of this, nay, in part because of all this, you will find at the end of every record that the person was brought home safely, Jesus welcomed them into heaven, not a single soul was lost, not a single page will be left uncompleted, for the God who makes a record of a single tear will surely see his people safely home.
Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
2 My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
5 All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
6 They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps,
hoping to take my life.
7 Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down.
8 Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
12 I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.