Tears. Hot, stinging, painful tears. The kind of tears that feel like they've been pulled out of your eyes with red hot pokers.
They say tears carry toxins out of your system. I believe it because I always feel better after I cry. But a lot of times, during the cry, I feel like I might drown - full of sadness and frustration.
I imagine this is how both Job and Jeremiah felt. Job, after he saw his entire family, business, homestead, health - literally everything he was, turn to dust. Jeremiah after he watched his beloved Jerusalem sacked, people carted off and those left resort to unspeakable post-war atrocities (as if witnessing atrocities during war aren't bad enough.)
Sometimes, when you are faced with the enormity of the destruction surrounding you, the only thing you have left to give to God is tears. You are out out of the what/when/where/why/how questions so you just pour out the really deep stuff. The hurt. The pain. The anger. The unspeakable.
There are seasons when God certainly gives you more than you can handle. I've written on this blog about it because I'm right in the middle of that season. In fact, I've started complaining to myself whenever I hear the comment "God never gives you more than you can handle!"
I just can't agree with that at the moment.
And neither would Jeremiah. In Lamentations, Jeremiah doesn't pull any punches. He calls it like he sees it because he is walking around in sackcloth and ashes. His entire world had been torn down, his people were either carried off by the enemy into bondage or starving to death.
That is way more than he could handle. Of course, he knew it was coming but knowing it and living it firsthand are two totally different experiences. I really get where he is coming from, sitting in the midst of chaos.
I don't make it a habit to list my issues because the list has grown quite long. But mostly because I want to focus on the positive. I never want to write something that leaves me feeling worse than when I started and I know you don't want to read something like that either.
So, in times like today, when my tears were bursting out of my eyes, I have to make myself remember God's promise to deliver, hold, comfort, secure and provide for me and mine.
I take that example from Lamentations 3:21-24. Jeremiah didn't feel like praising God. He probably felt the opposite as I'm sure he didn't want to think kindly of the God who just allowed the Babylonians to unleash their destructive forces on the Israelites.
But I think in times when the pain is just too great; when the weight of our burdens is to heavy; when He has given us double or triple our share of trials; we must force ourselves to swallow His mercy. We must turn our tear-streaked faces to the rain so all those toxins of grief can be washed away by a shower of grace.
That maybe the hardest thing we will ever do because sometimes we don't want to be on higher ground; we want to sit down in the ruins of our life, scraping our sores like Job. And for a time, maybe we do.
But as my NIV introduction to Lamentations calls it, verses 3:21-14 are the theological high point of the book. And so, we must reach higher too. We must call to mind how much He loves us, how He has spared us, how we might be pressed in by pain - but we are not consumed by it. He is our portion and we will wait & hope in Him alone because His faithfulness is so great and brand new every single sun-rise.
We might be sitting for now, but eventually we will stand again.