Tears in a Bottle

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” Psalms‬ ‭56:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Why would the Psalmist write that God collects all his tears in a bottle? To modern readers that will seem a bit strange, but in David’s day, as well as in other periods in history, there was apparently a custom of collecting tears, there being a variety of containers available for such a use. They were called lachrymatories and perhaps were a part of funeral arrangements.

But what did David mean when he wrote this verse? And is it relevant today? I think it first of all points to an intimate relationship between David and his Heavenly Father. At every opportunity he came into God’s presence, sharing what was happening at the time. The good times and well as the bad times. The times of laughter and joy, as well as the times of sorrow and grief. In this verse David was sharing a time of sadness, noting that God was keeping track of all the times a similar situation had occurred in his life. When this Psalm was written, David had been captured by the Philistines – the story can be found in 1  Samuel 21. He realised that he wasn’t in a safe place and pretended to be insane to escape. But in the midst of all this there was one place in which he couldn’t be touched – God’s presence.

So do we think that God keeps a register of all our sorrows? I think that depends on our relationship with Him. David had a full-on relationship with God – nothing held back, good or bad. But what about us? Is our relationship to God limited to a weekly recital of the Lord’s Prayer followed by a couple of hymns? Or do we too, like David, chatter away to our loving Heavenly Father at every opportunity, sharing our life with Him? Perhaps David spent more times in Heavenly places than on Planet Earth. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is a short verse, and it encourages us to, “Pray without ceasing“. I don’t believe it means we supply God with a continual shopping list of prayers. Rather, we must, like David, develop a conversational and intimate relationship – call it prayer if you like – with our Heavenly Father. Sharing all that is happening to us in our sinful world and receiving the encouragement and advice we need for living. And like David we too will, “….walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬.

God’s Master Plan

“O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.” Psalms‬ ‭40:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Any attempt to unpick and drill down into this verse can only end up in becoming lost in the depths of our Creator God, full of grateful praise and worship. The bottom line is that God’s wonders, plans and deeds are uncountable because there are so many of them. For example, just take the environment in which we live. The number of conditions that combine to enable life as we know it on this planet are uncountable. And it was God’s plan to create a world where His plans could be developed. And look at the complexities of human life – how could two cells coming together in a mother’s womb ever develop into a human being capable of so much? It beggars belief that so many people believe the lie that our world and all its contents happened by chance. As the verse above points out, our Creator God has performed many wonders and deeds in implementing His plans.

But there is a wonder, a plan, a deed, that is far above anything else God has done for the human race. We find in the Genesis account that God created men and women in His image. And He wanted to have a relationship with them based on love and friendship. But things went horribly wrong with man’s response to God, as we can find in the early accounts of the Israelite nation. God wasn’t going to give up on His creation, though, and He devised a master plan to reconcile mankind back to Him. His love for us was so intense that he wasn’t going to let us continue in living a life less than how He designed it to be. A life without the ultimate richness of being a friend of God. We can read about God’s master plan through the words of Jesus in John 3. This is the Message version. “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” That was God’s plan. To put the world back into the place He had designed it to be. He wasn’t going to give up on His creation and He never will. Through Jesus, God’s Master Plan, everyone person living on this planet can find out about God’s wonders, plans and deeds. If they want to. The choice is theirs. The choice is yours.

Don’t Give Up

“I pray to you, O Lord, My rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You are silent, I might as well give up and die. Listen to my prayer for mercy as I cry out to You for help, as I lift my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.” Psalms‬ ‭28:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

To David, his relationship with God was so important, so profound, that if God was to ever withdraw from that relationship, David said he might as well stop living. We don’t know what David was praying about, though we get a few clues later in the Psalm, but at this critical moment in his life, he felt as though the heavens were made of brass and his petitions were falling on deaf ears. But as we read down this Psalm, we find that God did answer him. He writes in verses 6 and 7, “Praise the Lord! For He has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

So the question is, how important is my relationship with God? If the heavens were closed to my prayers and petitions, what would I think and do? Would I give up, spiritually speaking? It’s a sobering thought, but, like David, I can praise Him this morning because a theme of God’s love for me runs through the Bible, like letters through a stick of seaside rock. He says that I am His child (1 John 3:1). He says He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). He reassures me that there is nothing I should be anxious about (Philippians 4:6-7). And so on. There are many such reassuring verses throughout the Bible. So this morning, I can praise and worship my Father, my Saviour God with a grateful heart. Can you?