TEAR BOTTLES AND BOOKS

No matter where you are in the world, it’s common knowledge that there are different kinds of bottles: glass bottles, plastic bottles, and so on. Then people label bottles according to their contents, for example, if you hear the term “coke bottle”, you know that it’s a bottle in which coke is (or has been) packaged. You also get water bottles which you take with you to the gym (if you gym) or which has to go in your pre-schoolers bag for the pre-school he/she attends in which water is poured for use during the time of the stay there.. And then, according to the Bible, there’s also such a thing as tear bottles! Did you know that?

In a secular sense, tear-shedding is often used as a therapeutical means to rid yourself of bottled-up negative emotions such as sadness, frustration, anger, and the like. Some use it as an effective tool to manipulate others to get from them the reaction they want, taking advantage of the love and soft nature of others, and there are some who firmly believe that weeping shows weakness.

As for me, although I feel better after having a good cry and laughing after that seems to me like sunshine after the rain, I don’t cry to get what I want, neither do I believe that crying is always a bad thing. I’m one of those who believe in a good cry every once in awhile. It really has done wonders for me in the past!

When it comes to spiritual life and meditation, I don’t know about you, but I have cried many tears privately, especially when talking to my Creator about something that really upsets me or when I’m expressing a desire to God by means of prayer. There’s not just one thing that can result in a tearful prayer; many things may give you reason to shed tears when you talk to God, and among these reasons are:

Tears of remorse/regret/shame for what’s been done;
Tears of joy;
Tears of supplication;
Tears of utter gratitude or thankfulness;
Tears of awe and wonder;
Tears of grief, pain or sadness;
Tears of compassion;
Tears of disappointment;
Or tears simply because words aren’t enough to express your heart to God.

From Scripture I only used to know that God sees our tears, or else, the Bible would not have said that there will be an end to the time of tears for those who suffered great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, because God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There won’t be any need anymore to cry tears of compassion, supplication, sadness, regret/remorse, and the like, because things such as sorrow, death, crying, or pain, and the like will be non-existent and all things will be made new. I don’t think that there will even be room for tears of joy, gratitude, awe, or tears due to the lack of men to express their heart to God, because God will dwell among them and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

But, to be quite honest, this alone wasn’t enough to comfort me. Yes, I believe that, if you pray to God and believe He is there, He hears your prayers and will answer, even though we may not always like the answer. However, I have often wondered: are the tears we cry just body fluid that gets wiped off by tissues and that lands up in the dust bin? Are they really just part of the time when they pour down our faces? Is the hope that there will someday be no more tears the only comfort we have in this life, or could it be possible that there’s more to it?

Because I couldn’t seem to find an answer to these questions and be comforted by the hope in the belief that there will be a time of zero tears in future, I used to believe (without having any Scripture to starve my belief) that a prayer filled with many tears and only a few words has more value to God than a prayer with many words but no tears.

Then, yesterday morning, I read Psalm 56. As I read it, I was praying that Scripture over my husband as he is currently working his last month’s notice, and some of his colleagues, (or one in, particular), really seem to watch his every move so they can have something to say against him to score more points with the CEO for biting his back and getting him into trouble.

To those of you who acknowledge that there is such a thing as spiritual warfare, I recommend that you read this Psalm the next time it seems as if you (or someone with whom you happen to fellowship) are constantly being attacked by people around you whose only aim seems to be to find something against you so they can get you into trouble. That’s because in that Psalm, David talks about slanderers pursuing him all day long, attacking him in their pride by always twisting his words and plotting to harm him.

But anyway, returning to the subject of what I read and prayed, I was reading the Psalm out loud, and then I would pause after each verse to reflect on it. I remember specifically praying that my husband’s first reflex at the moment he becomes aware of the attack against him must be to trust in God’s Word, not fearing whatever men can do to him, no matter what happens.

Then, verse 8 in particular got my attention, and I admit that I reflected a lot longer on that specific verse than all the others in that Psalm. In the King James Version, it reads: “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

Wait, I thought to myself. Let’s stop the bus right here and now! What’s this thing about tears in bottles and books? How can they be in both at the same time? What do other English translations say in the same verse?

Remember now, English is NOT my first language, so I had to turn to other English translations that are easier to read and to which I have access, so I consulted the NIV first, because although NIV is most definitely not my first choice when I have to read the Bible in English, it has often helped me to understand what’s being said on a level suitable for second language readers.

Verse 8 in the last-mentioned translation reads: “Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll {Or [put my tears in your wineskin]} — are they not in your record?”

Except for helping me to understand that the term “wanderings” as used in the King James Version doesn’t mean to go astray, but that it refers to lamenting, the part where “bottle” is translated to mean “whineskin” had me a little confused, so I closed NIV and consulted the Young’s Literal Translation, which is a much more literal translation of the Bible, and where verse 8 reads: “My wandering Thou hast counted, Thou — place Thou my tear in Thy bottle, Are they not in Thy book?” Again the references to tears being placed in a bottle and a book.

Thus, from the study I’ve done on this in my capacity as a lay person who makes mistakes but desires to be a difference-maker and not being a theologian who studied for years and who may have expert knowledge as to the correctness of the way in which the Hebrew texts were translated, I take this verse to mean that God indeed takes note of each and every prayer made, more specially so if tears are involved. Physically, we feel the tears flowing down our faces when we tearfully pray, and we use tissues or something alike to remove all traces of our crying so that we may look better, but also so that others don’t see that we’ve cried. And when we cry before people, the only thing they can really do is to help us clean our faces and give us advice as to how to proceed when having to deal with toxic people in life.

Yet, in another unseen dimention, something so unbelievably amazing and astonishing happens to the tears we cry while talking to God. Not only does God take note of our lamentations; our tears are captured in bottles, and records are being kept of our lamentations! This means that we don’t have to feel guilty about crying because we think we’re spending our time in an unproductive way when we cry, because our tears are being packaged in bottles, and our lamentations to God are being recorded. Wow!That’s, good news worth sharing indeed!
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