August 12, 2019

The Hope of Tears in Painful Times By Bob Jones

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12, ESV)

Henri Nouwen wrote in his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, that "it is often difficult to believe that there is much to think, speak or write about other than brokenness."

The themes of affliction, brokenness, prayer, tenacity, hope, and joy have been constants in my pastoral and writing journeys. When I show up on a Sunday to share a message with congregations I know their one common experience will be pain of some measure. When I write, I know readers will relate to stories of setbacks, tears, and comebacks.

Ancient advice to followers of Jesus is timeless wisdom for today: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12, ESV) These trilogies of trust create a therapeutic framework for tears.

The Metamorphosis of Your Soul

Tears are the language of the soul. When they are turned toward God, they are never wasted nor shed in vain. Though often shunned by man they are treasured by God.

Many Hebrew words for grieving, weeping and lamentation actually mean “to distill,” which means to “separate and change from one substance to another.” This word beautifully describes God’s renewing work in the midst of our tears. In the life long metamorphosis of our souls, God is continually transforming us into the image of Christ. The tears we pour out at the feet of Jesus, both joyful and sad, are the distillation of God’s eternal work in our lives.

Ken Gire wrote in Windows of the Soul, “In each tear is distilled something of eternity, something of love and compassion and tenderness, all things that originate in heaven and come to earth as a sacrament to the soul.” The closest communion with God comes through the sacrament of tears. Just as grapes are crushed to make wine and grain to make bread, so the elements of this sacrament come from the crushing experiences of life. So much is distilled in our tears, not the least of which is wisdom in living life. 

Going Forward Through Pain

I have frequently shared at funerals that if you follow your tears you will find your heart. If you find your heart you will find what is important to God. And if you find what is important to God you will know the answer to how you should go forward with your life.

I am assisting a woman to write her story of childhood sexual abuse. Through her tears she found what was important to God. As an eight-year-old she attended the same church as her abuser. He was family and a respected member of his community. Her little girl prayers were answered in adult life when she found healing. She turned her pain into hope by building a world class centre of recovery for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Jesus is distilling her tears into personal renewal and for the brokenness suffered by boys and girls.   

Jesus will do the same for you, and through you as a writer. 

Please leave a comment below.

I am a recovering perfectionist who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks iced tea. My walls are adorned with our sons’ framed football jerseys, and my bookshelves, with soul food. 

I write to grow hope, inspire people to be real, forge an authentic faith in Jesus, and discover their life purpose.

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  1. Deeply healing thoughts, Bob. Thanks.

  2. Thank you, Bob. The timing of your post is exquisite.

  3. Wow! Just exactly what I needed to reflect on today!

  4. Hi Bob. This is beautiful. I love how you share that if you follow your tears you will find what is important to God and then know how to go forward. That is profound to me.

  5. Also could I share your post on a page I manage called Brandi's Page? It is for hope and healing after childhood abuse/sexual abuse and addresses the issues around suicide. I think your post would offer such hope to all that can read it.

  6. Thanks for the post Bob. Indeed tears are significant in our experiences in life and how following them leads us to be able to move forward. That is such a gem to have us understand. Thank you for taking precious time with people as you come alongside them in their tears.

  7. Drawn to this line "much is distilled in our tears, not the least of which is wisdom in living life." Have found that to be true in my own life.

    Thank you for writing such hope-filled posts.

  8. You’ve given us good material for pondering and praying. I have a better understanding of the distilling nature of our tears that will give us wisdom for living life. I am moved also by the paragraph where you explain what you often tell people at funerals: to follow our tears to find our heart; to follow our heart to find what’s important to God; then, if we find what’s important to God, we will find the answer to how we should go forward with our lives. Of course, you say this more eloquently, and I thank you, Pastor Bob.

  9. What beautiful and profound thoughts, Bob, on how God honours our tears. Among thoughts that stood out for me included, "Tears are the language of the soul." "The tears we pour out at the feet of Jesus, both joyful and sad, are the distillation of God’s eternal work in our lives."

  10. So many quotable lines in this post, Bob, and I don't mean by the writers you quote, but by the words you wrote. Your wording is beautiful, profound, and true. I look forward to reading the book you are helping with, another story similar to my own, with tears healed by the Master Distiller.


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