STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM


TEARS OF
SUFFERING
==================
Record my misery; list my tears on your
scroll—are they not in your record?
Psalm 56:8

Somewhere in this world a persecuted Christian might be crying right at this
moment. It might seem
that their tears are in vain and simply drop to the
ground. But ages ago King
David was convinced that God was interested in his
tears. In the passage
noted above, alternate translations for listing tears on
a “scroll” include
putting tears in a “bottle” or “wineskin.”

Today in the Middle East it is
not uncommon to see a collection of
oddly-shaped bottles, labeled only as
“sprinklers.” But in ancient Middle
Eastern times these bottles were known as
“tear-catchers.” When a husband went
off to war, his wife would collect her
tears for him in a bottle. On his
return she would hand him the bottle as
proof of her love. In times of death
or serious trouble, family members would
bring their tear-catchers and collect
tears from all the people present.
Sometimes the tears would be stored in a
small round jar with a lid. These
tear bottles represented the sorrows of the
family; tears serving as a
message in a bottle. In those days each person was
buried with his or her
tear bottle; archaeologists have found many of these
bottles in ancient
tombs.

In the days of King David of Israel the bottle was more likely
made of animal
skin. David was a man who went through a lot of suffering and
persecution.
David had no doubts: his tears were not shed in vain, but were
collected by
God. The words in Psalm 56 could also be those of our persecuted
brothers and
sisters. They serve as a reminder for us to “treasure” their
tears.

The words of David are still true today. People try to trample on
our brothers
and sisters; want to harm them; spy on their movements. David
put his trust
clearly in the Lord. In verses 3 and 4 he says, “When I am
afraid, I put my
trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and
am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

Watching the moving
DVD documentary, A Cry from Iran, you will be brought to
tears as you see and
hear the story of Iranian Pastor Haik who was martyred
for his faith in the
mid-1990’s. He worked tirelessly for the release from
prison of Christian
brother Mehdi Dibaj who was sentenced to death for
apostasy. Miraculously
Mehdi was released. At Pastor Haik’s funeral, a
teary-eyed Mehdi Dibaj said,
“I was the one who should have died, not Haik.”
Six months later he too was
martyred.

Recently our office for the Middle East received an Iranian
“tear-catcher” as
a present. The bottle helps us to remember the tears of the
Iranian
Christians, but with them all of the Christians around the world who
are being
persecuted. It speaks about grief, about tears, about suffering;
but also
about faith and confidence in the Lord.

Let us remember their
tears, knowing that as one member suffers, all members
suffer. And let us
rejoice that someday God will wipe away all tears from
their eyes and our
eyes.

RESPONSE: Today I will remember those of my extended Christian
family around
the world who are suffering and shedding tears.

PRAYER:
Pray for persecuted church believers today who may be shedding
sorrowful
tears of grief.

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