You have kept count of my tossings,
put my tears in your bottle. – Psalm 56:5
Psalm 56 is one of those revenge psalms. You know the type: “Oh God, everything is terrible, but I know that soon you’re going to crush my enemies and I will recline on a throne made of their skulls.”
I’ve had my share of those fantasies (you have too, so just wipe that smug look off your face).
Even so, I’d probably dismiss this one as more than a little bit puerile if it weren’t for the image in verse 5: God there in front of me, close as close can be, catching my tears as they fall. Not wiping every tear from my eye; not promising that mourning and crying and pain will be no more. Bending down from on high, celestial bottle in hand, and gathering my tears—my tears!—as if they were liquid gold. As if they were precious. As if they mattered. As if God knows that behind every revenge fantasy and every bit of righteous anger and every unholy wish for my enemies’ demise lies some ancient hurt or old wrong or fresh wound.
You too, of course. If the psalmist has it right, your tears aren’t something to hide, to be embarrassed about. They are to be honored. Not that being hurt unto tears is a good in and of itself. But in a world where pain seems inevitable, God thinks this evidence that you still have a human heart, even after all you’ve been through, is precious indeed.
God, you must have an ocean of tears in those bottles of yours by now. I don’t know what you’re going to do with them, but there’s no one else I’d trust them with. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.