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The Sacred Ache: No Tear Forgotten

The Sacred Ache: No Tear Forgotten

In the midst of our pain and grief — and especially at the front end — we may imagine God has abandoned us, forgotten us, dismissed us, or simply ignored us. We’re not the first occupants of this broken planet to feel this way, nor will we be the last. Even a quick stroll through the Psalms reveals how often human thoughts wander down this shadowy pathway:

  • “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3).
  • “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1–2).
  • “How long, O Lord? Will You hide yourself forever? How long will Your wrath burn like fire? Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility You have created all men!” (Psalm 89:46–47).
  • “Relent, O Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on Your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble” (Psalm 90:13–15).

The prophet Habakkuk got in the act, too, crying out,

How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen? – Habakkuk 1:2

That’s how we feel, and God seems to have no problem with our expressing it. So when you cry out to the Lord, asking Him your own version of “How long?” recognize that you’re in good company.

But please don’t leave it there. Don’t allow your ache to remain merely an ache. Remember the truth, and allow that truth to seep into your troubled mind so that your ache might begin its transformation into something sacred. Remember what David whispered to God, after yet another near-death escape?

You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.

You have recorded each one in Your book. – Psalm 56:8

Why would He do that? Why would God keep track of all our sorrows? Why would He collect all our tears in a bottle? Why does the Lord record each heartache, each grief, each sadness in some divine journal inscribed with heavenly ink?

It’s because He has plans for those things.

It’s because He wastes nothing.

He intends to fill our sorrows and tears with His expansive love. This was the glorious expectation of both the prophets and the apostles when each said of God:

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. – Isaiah 25:8

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21:4

When we remember this — when we recall that God does in fact notice our pain, that He collects each tear in a bottle so that one day He might replace each teardrop with an ocean of divine love — our souls stop shrinking and begin to expand. The small world of our pain gives way to something boundless… beyond measure… beyond our reckoning.

God’s incomprehensible love.

This is the biblical truth. This is the Christian’s hope. And this is the sacred ache.

Excerpted with permission from God Loves Broken People by Sheila Walsh, copyright Thomas Nelson.

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