Psalm 56:8: “You keep track of my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
All Scripture is God-breathed. The Psalms reflect a wide range of human emotions from complaint to praise, fear to faith, and sorrow to joy – sometimes all in the same refrain! They give us permission to bring our raw and uncut emotions to the throne of God. This is one reason why I believe Psalms is such a popular choice for many to read in times of distress and sorrow.
Psalm 56 is a perfect example. David wrote this psalm when he was on the run from murderous King Saul. David had become desperate enough that he had to turn to Israel’s enemies to hide him and his men. In this psalm, David’s anxiety is so intense and his faith so determined that he considers how God has collected and recorded all of his tears in a bottle.
A thousand years later it had become a common practice for Jewish women to have a small glass tear jar (lachrymatory) to collect tears in observance of Psalm 56:8. The tear jar symbolized the value of tears and that suffering does not go unnoticed by our God.
In the New Testament (Luke 7:38), we see an unknown, unnamed woman coming to Jesus to anoint His feet with her tears. Perhaps she had brought her tear jar for this. Regardless, these Scripture passages illustrate how God values our sorrows, and He demonstrates that they are worth recognizing. No one else may know about our troubles, but God sees our pain. He tells us that just like this unknown woman and King David, He can handle our range of emotions and all our grief.
Casting all our tears and cares on Him, He cares for us. Jesus can lift us up (Luke 7:44) and redeem what has been broken by this world of pain and sin. He promises to send us on our way in peace. Take heart, my friend. Keep looking up!