Lamentations 1:12-16; 3:46-50; Luke 7:36-50

When words fail, tears flow.

Tears have a language all their own, a tongue that needs no interpreter. In some mysterious way, our complex inner-communication system knows when to admit its verbal limitations . . . and the tears come.

Eyes that flashed and sparkled only moments before are flooded from a secret reservoir. We try in vain to restrain the flow, but even strong men falter.

Tears are not self-conscious. They can spring upon us when we are speaking in public or standing beside others who look to us for strength. Most often they appear when our soul is overwhelmed with feelings that words cannot describe.

Our tears may flow during the singing of a great, majestic hymn or when we are alone, lost in some vivid memory or wrestling in prayer.

Did you know that God takes special notice of those tears of yours? Psalm 56:8 tells that He puts them in His bottle and enters them into the record He keeps on our lives.

David said, “The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.”

A teardrop on earth summons the King of Heaven. Rather than being ashamed or disappointed, the Lord takes note of our inner friction when hard times are oiled by tears. He turns these situations into moments of tenderness; He never forgets those crises in our lives where tears were shed.

One of the great drawbacks of our cold, sophisticated society is its reluctance to show tears. For some strange reason, men feel that tears are a sign of weakness . . . and many an adult feels to cry is to be immature. How silly! How unfortunate! The consequence is that we place a watchdog named “restraint” before our hearts. This animal is trained to bark, snap, and scare away any unexpected guest who seeks entrance.

The ultimate result is a well-guarded, highly respectable, uninvolved heart surrounded by heavy bars of confinement. Such a structure resembles a prison more than a home where the tender Spirit of Christ resides.

Jeremiah lived in no such dwelling. His transparent tent was so tender and sensitive he could not preach a sermon without the interruption of tears. “The weeping prophet” became his nickname and even though he didn’t always have the words to describe his feelings, he was never at a loss to communicate his convictions. You could always count on Jeremiah to bury his head in his hands and sob aloud.

Strange that this man was selected by God to be His personal spokesman at the most critical time in Israel’s history. Seems like an unlikely choice—unless you value tears as God does. I wonder how many tear bottles in heaven are marked with his name.

I wonder how many of them bear your initials. You’ll never have many until you impound restraint and let a little tenderness run loose. You might lose a little of your polished respectability, but you’ll have a lot more freedom. And a lot less pride.

Taken from Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 1983, 1994, 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com

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Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.