This is the fourth post in a series Resilience as Practice for Kingdom Dwellers. Click here to view all posts in the series.
2 Corinthians 4:8,9 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Christ also may be manifested in our body.
Revelation 7:17 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.
Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in — Leonard Cohen
Someone I once loved gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift — Mary Oliver, poet
It is such a secret place, the land of tears — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
There is something important to add to the discussion of resilience, a necessary counterweight, and that is the significance of tears.
It is essential to leave room for our human anguish in the face of the wretchedness and suffering in the world. It is vital to hail tears of defeat and futility, each person for themselves, and also for the other.
As we all know, life can be very hard, and at the end of the day, most people are not spartans or stoics or navy SEALs. In our Faith history, even David, king of Israel made his couch swim with tears. The prophets and the ancient fathers tore their robes. Job sat in the ashes. Jesus wept.
When there is deep vexation and despair, it is tears that help facilitate a return to resilience. I am grateful to Deborah McNamara for her insight that “sad tears undergird adaptability and resilience.”
Resilient people welcome soft tears of futility.
Soft tears expel toxic proteins, trigger the release of oxytocin and endorphins, and facilitate a physiological shift away from a fight/flight sympathetic state. Such tears have the power to calm, bolster, and renew us; to relieve pain, grief and stress. These tears are essential for long term, hard wearing resilience, and for mitigating PTSD.
How extraordinary for us as Kingdom people, cosmic orphans no more, that we do not cry in isolation but before the God of the universe, whose ears are attentive to our cries?
For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him (Deut 4:7) Coming before the Father with our tears, brought low by discouragement and distress, we come to a place where we may be reminded that God sees us, He hears us, and He knows us; our tears in a bottle, our prayers in a bowl.
Psalm 56:8 You have taken account of my miseries, You have put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?
Revelation 5:8 When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
The Lord is near to the broken-hearted. He who saves those who are crushed in spirit. He will not extinguish a smoking wick, or snap a bruised reed. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, and as we boast in our tears, the power of Christ dwells within us. It is He who gives us beauty for ashes. We walk by faith and not by sight. God is our hiding place; our very present help in trouble. It is in the vale of tears that we come to know that we are continually surrounded by songs of deliverance (Ps 32:7).
Let us sing our freedom then, also in the darkness. As we sit on the ashes, waiting on the Lord, may our courage be renewed as we make room for our tears, and for the tears of others. May we remember there is “no need to be ashamed of tears, for these bear witness of the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer” (Viktor Frankl).
Psalm 62:8 Trust in the LORD at all times, O people! Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.
Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. God is to us a God of deliverances.