Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Tears in All Seasons

The great American author, Washington Irving, wrote, “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” He could not be more right. Each tear that we shed marks a page in our life’s journal. We weep for joy when we share the marriage of two people and witness the birth of a child. We weep in sorrow when we are saddened by the passing of a spouse, family member or a dear friend. When we are happy or sad, we shed tears. They are the outward signs of how we feel on the inside. Each tear is different from the other. Medical doctors tell me that the composition of tears are different depending on the mood of the individual. When a person is sad or depressed, the chemistry of those tears differ from those shed during times of joy or excitement.

No matter what the case or situation, tears are not a sign of weakness. They are signs of power and expression of our feelings. When you look throughout the Bible, you will see strong individuals called by God to serve who weep. In Chapter 11, John records that Jesus wept after he heard where Lazarus’ family had put him. In fact, verse 35 is the shortest verse in the Bible, “Then Jesus wept.” Jesus later tells Martha, Lazarus’ sister, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” It saddened Jesus to hear that they believed more in the power of death than that of life. He wept for them. 

As I continue my journey of recovery, I have wept tears of joy for each milestone that God has guided me to. I wept bitter tears when I experienced setbacks and cried out to the Lord and asked Him why. I, however, quickly remembered the words of Jesus that I have to believe in order to see God’s glory expressed in my life. During those moments of setback, I remember the teachings of Ecclesiastes 3. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” In our lives, we experience the winter of discontent and the spring of joy. We express moments of triumph and trial. There will be seasons when, as the psalmist tells us in Psalm 126, we sow in tears, but we will soon reap a harvest with shouts of joy. 

There will always be times when we weep bitter tears, but we must learn to persevere and move forward not only in our lives but also in our faith. Paul tells us in Romans 5, “And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Endurance does build character which in turn strengthens our faith in that glorious hope of salvation. As we go through that valley of darkness, we will shed tears. We will cry out to the Lord and ask to be delivered. Those tears and cries for mercy will give way to victory. Just as Lazarus was raised from the dead, we, too, will be raised up from the darkest of times to experience the light of victory. 

When I was in high school, I broke my right leg while ice skating. I had never been ice skating before in my whole life. My dad told me stories of how he would skate in the winter on the frozen ponds in Pennsylvania. I figured it would be easy. So, I tried it. I went out on the ice with a couple of friends and in the process, I broke my leg. I thought I had sprained my ankle badly and decided not to go to the hospital. The next day my leg had swollen up and I was unable to put any weight on it. My dad took me to the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center located at Fort Hood, Texas. The emergency room doctor took one look at my leg and knew I had broken one or more of the bones in my lower right leg. He sent me immediately to the orthopedic unit. While there, they performed a series of x-rays and determined that I had broken one of the two bones in my lower right leg. Back then, it was a simple task. Cast the leg, set it and then x-ray it again to make sure everything was aligned properly. If you have never experienced the pain of having a broken bone set, you have missed out on a really painful experience. It is more painful than the breaking of the bone. While I was on the table with my leg in wet plaster, the orthopedic doctor, Major Greene, set my leg. As he was doing that, I began to well up with tears. The pain was excruciating to say the least. Each twist and move was a whole new experience in pain the likes of which I hope I never ever have to feel again. My dad seeing my eyes fill up with tears leaned down and said, “Real men do not cry.” I immediately stopped and endured the pain.

Although I loved my dad dearly, I would have disagreed with him on the weeping. Real men do weep. Jesus wept. Paul wept. The strongest men and women of the Bible wept in joy or sorrow. But, no matter what they wept about, they knew one thing. Tears shed in sorrow will give way to victory. James tells us in chapter 1, “12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” By persevering in our trials and living through each test, we will ultimately have that victory and receive the crown of life. There will be tears along the way, but, as Washington Irving points out, tears are “the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” During those moments of stress and setback, we realize that we do not have the strength within us to go it alone. We must turn to God and allow His grace, mercy and love to become our strength. 

The psalmist tells us in Psalm 34, “19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. 20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!” That truth was, is and continues to be God’s promise to His children. The Lord always comes to the rescue when He hears our cries or sees our tears. He will not allow His children to go it alone. He will remain there with us and see us through the darkest of times so that we will be that testament of God’s unfathomable love and glory.

If you walk in darkness and feel that all is lost, you can receive God’s gift of salvation and know that He has you in the palm of His hand. When you feel utterly alone, He will embrace you with His mighty arms and shield you from all harm. He loves His children and will send His angels to watch over you and protect you. In order to receive this gift of salvation and peace, all you have to do is accept Christ Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord. He will lead you to the Father and provide you with all that you need to enjoy victory when all seems lost.

As we go through this week, always remember that no matter what happens, we can stand firm in His grace and know that, as is written so beautifully in Revelation 24, “4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. 
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

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