Recently, I received a letter from a dear friend who encouraged Lys & I to consider Psalm 56:8.
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (ESV)
At first, I was confused. For starters, what are tossings apart from 3:00 am body shifts…and what exactly is the tie between “bottle” and “book”? Is there something specific I’m to glean from this in present application?
So, I did some digging, following my curiosity into the Word (which may or may not be my default entrance these days). And upon further review, I couldn’t help but notice some powerful reminders…
1. Per Psalm 56‘s header, this passage was written after the Philistines seized David in Gath. As such, the oft quoted, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (v. 3) a few verses prior would become a critical heartcry allowing his hope to rise above the flesh. While simple in statement, the declaration established immediate divide between eternal safety and present concern for David. In turn, this solidified his endgame as “[walking] before God In the light of life” (v. 13).
2. The word, “tossings”, stands out as a word worth underlining. Although bedside maneuvers can be involved, on a larger scale, tossings refer to wanderings and challenging seasons we walk through. Accordingly, the fact God is quantitatively cognizant of our sufferings should assure us of His sovereignty and omnipresence in times of strife. One could say this makes perfect sense given God is continually directing our steps (Proverbs 16:9) and knows everything from the number of our days (Psalm 139) to the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7)…
3. Despite the verse’s urgent tone, the concept of bottled tears stabilizes the tenor. To David, tears were deposits of desperate trust into a bottle of remembrance. Given he had already surrendered his fear (of what men could do to him), he had, by proxy, opened his heart to receive comfort and his posture to look up. Poetic license applied, the metaphor is a beautiful reminder how even in great pain and distress, we can acknowledge the God who rejoices over us with gladness (Zephaniah 3:17) is the same God who weeps alongside us when troubles mount.
4. Just as God is omnipresence, so is He omniscient. Since nothing takes God by surprise (Psalm 95), the idea of God tallying a ledger of our trials and tribulations should hearten us to take heart. After all, God not only wipes what we weep but is forever on standby to offer joy as featured within the unveiling of His purposes/promises.
How sweet it is knowing we can delight in suffering in remembrance of Christ knowing He does the same thing with us each and every day!Tweet
Bottom line: In seasons of grief, in times of challenge…don’t be afraid to cry out and leak a little along the way. As David expressed literally and figuratively, our tears are never in vain as they…
- Carry purpose and power (Isaiah 38:5, 2 Timothy 1:4).
- Reflect obedience and surrender to Christ (Acts 9:16).
- Help us journey into God’s goodness (Psalm 39:12).
- Sustain us through perspective (Psalm 42:3).
- Enlarge our capacity to receive love and intimacy (2 Corinthians 2:4)¹
All the more reason to trust God through the struggle and know He’s for us through the sorrow (v. 9).
Stay tuned next time when I’ll return to our Power in the Mud series to discuss why Jesus was so passionate about healing on the Sabbath. For now, I’d like to thank all our supporters and prayer partners as we share this 200th post! We greatly appreciate your words of encouragement and engagement the past five years especially as we’ve turned the corner from youth ministry into marketplace ministry. Although there’s much going on behind the scenes, we look forward to continuing our aim to resource the church and empower vocationals everywhere to live as Christ within their arenas of influence.
- Hence, why God tracks what He allows to stretch us and what He appoints to transform us into His likeness.
Cover photo creds: Marilyn Gardner