Not All Tears are Equal | God’s Word Today

Not All Tears are Equal

“He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.” – Isaiah 25:8, NKJV

“Not all tears are equal,” Nahum Barnea told the press. He should know. His son was killed in a bus bombing in Israel in 1995. He was comparing the suffering and tears of the children whose fathers had been killed by a terrorist’s bomb with the tears of the children of the terrorist who was imprisoned for the crime. (Source: Orange County Register, Dec. 16, 1998, p. 30).

Barnea is right. Not all tears are equal. Neither are the causes of all tears equal. People shed tears for a lot of reasons: joy, sorrow, pain, grief, remorse, excitement, shame and a host of other emotions. You may go to a movie and be deeply touched by the plight of a puppy dog floating down a river towards the roaring falls. It’s make-believe. The actual puppy was never in real danger, but it touches your heart and you cry.   Your tears are for a different reason than that of the mother whose baby is dying and whose grief-stricken heart is broken as her eyes fill with tears.

Actually, the first mention of tears in the Bible is that of a mother who fears her child is dying, and ironically, the baby who lived became the father of the Arabs including the terrorist whose bomb killed Nahum’s son as he rode the bus in Israel (See 1 Samuel 1). But when a mother sheds tears over her baby whom she loves, geography and political boundaries are not important.

But not all tears are equal. The father of the Prodigal, as older men are prone to do, probably shed tears of joy when his boy who had wandered far from home came back, humiliated and repentant. Why do people cry when they are happy? Yes, it seems strange, especially to youth that don’t understand why the wellsprings of emotion can’t contain the joy, and overflow in tears. There are happy occasions, and tears of joy, which seemed so ridiculous to me in my youth, and now make sense to me. Joyful tears are much to be preferred to tears of remorse and sadness—the kind people shed over the casket of a little five-year-old boy whose arms cradle a teddy bear, a worn, tattered blanket tucked beside the still body.

Not all tears are equal. There are tears of repentance, which flow freely and leave the heart cleansed, the face shining, and the conscience clear. Tears of repentance do a lot more good than tears shed over remorse—the kind that comes when you get caught and you fear the embarrassment of being found out.

No, not all tears are equal, and neither are tears bad, as we are prone to think—a sign of weakness, especially for us men who repress our emotions lest someone know our hearts can be touched. Go to a museum in Israel today and you will find that the ancients so valued tears that they preserved them. How? By catching them in tear bottles which are now on display—something strange to us today.

There is one more thing that needs to be said. God is not indifferent to your tears. He sees and He knows. “I have heard your prayers and seen your tears,” God told Hezekiah when he thought he was dying (2 Kings 20:5). Read 1 Samuel and notice how God’s heart was moved by the intensity of Hannah’s prayers when she could not conceive a child. Then take your Bible and mark that great passage in Isaiah where God says, “He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth” (Isaiah 25:8, NKJV).

Not all tears are equal, and tears are not forever. Someday, there will be an end to the pain and the grief which cause most of them. May God hasten that day!

Resource reading: Revelation 21

This devotional © by Harold J. Sala.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission from Guidelines International Ministries. Not for sale or profit.

Dr. Harold J. Sala

Dr. Harold J. Sala

Speaker, author and Bible teacher, Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963.Pioneering the five-minute commentary in Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” is heard the world over in a variety of languages. Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 55 books published in 19 languages.He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children (daughter Bonnie is now Guidelines president) and eight well-loved grandchildren.
Dr. Harold J. Sala

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