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The Tear Catcher – Psalm 56:9

 June 10, 2021

There have been many tears over the past year. What happens to those tears? Do they fall unnoticed into tissues and sleeves where they are tossed or washed away? Psalm 56 tells us that God catches all of our tears. “My wanderings you have counted; my tears are stored in your flask; are they not recounted in your book?” (9) God is the tear catcher. But what does that mean?

Types of Tears

There are a number of types of tears. Tears of sorrow, regret, anger, frustration, remorse.

As a teen, I remember when I got frustrated and angry, tears were quick to surface, much to my dismay. The last thing I wanted was to start crying when I was angry. Rather than say anything, I would hold my tongue to keep the tears at bay. Back then, anger was not an acceptable emotion for women. So the only way to express anger was through tears. Rather than get angry, I would start crying. Super embarrassing!

I’ve since overcome that, but not without time and effort.

Tears can also be manipulative. Without knowing it at the time, I’ve done that. I would respond to other people’s anger at me with tears, thus stopping the accusations. Eventually I came to realize that this was manipulative, a way to get out of having to deal with what had made the person angry. Others use tears, well aware of what they are doing, to get away with wrong doings.

There are also God’s tears as mentioned in a previous post.

Tears of sorrow, over the loss of a loved one or other losses, are readily recognized. Those of remorse come from acknowledging our failings or how we may have hurt others. These are the tears God stores in his flask.

The Power of Tears

In the Harry Potter Books, tears are captured and put in the remembrance pool. They are connected to important memories. There is a false story of people catching tears in a bottle, a lachrymatory or tear catcher. The myth is that mourners would collect tears in a bottle that would then be buried with the deceased.

While not true, the fact that the myth has remained over the years shows its power. We recognize the importance of tears.

Tears in the Psalms

There are many references to tears in the Psalms.

  • My tears are my food day and night, as they say to me day after day, ‘Where is your God?’” Psalm 42:4
  • Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” Psalm 126:5
  • I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears.” Psalm 6:6
  • Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.” Psalm 31:9
  • Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with You, A sojourner like all my fathers.” Psalm 39:12
  • You have fed them with the bread of tears, and You have made them to drink tears in large measure.” Psalm 80:5
  • Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.” Psalm 116:7-9
  • “Passing through the valley of Baca (weeping) they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings.” Psalm 84:6

Tears in Scripture

Elsewhere in Scripture we hear Jeremiah lament, “Oh that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (9:1)

Isaiah offers words of hope for a time when God will wipe away all our tears. “He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces.” (25:8) This is echoes in Revelations: “For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (7:17); “And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (21:4)

God – the Tear Catcher

All remind us that God is the ultimate tear catcher. Our tears are not in vain, tossed away and unremembered. Rather our God collects our tears and transforms them.

How has God transformed the tears in your life? I would love to hear from you!


This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of  Still Dancing the second book in my Dancing through Life Series.      click here to sign up

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