The Scriptures are full of images about water - parting the waters, living water, water from a rock, floods, rains, streams and rivers. And like those streams and rivers, all of these images flow down to the same big ocean, to a declaration of God's goodness, love, and grace. Even the devastating flood ends in a promise. So when we think of another form of water, perhaps the most minuscule form by comparison - ours tears - we wonder how even that leads back to His goodness.
Contemporary media and storytelling has given us this image of a God who collects our tears in a vial that He then wears around His neck. Each drop goes into a tiny tube - it's always tiny, no matter how many tears we've actually cried over our lives - and is treasured by our Father who loves us so deeply as to care about each and every drop.
While that's tender and touching, and often comforting, it lacks a layer of depth. Doesn't it? It leaves our tears still feeling...pointless. Meaningless. Yes, God cares for us even when we weep, but there has to be something greater to it all, doesn't there? It has to matter for some reason, right?
We do not weep just for God to collect our tears. And certainly, though I am still young, the tears of my life do not fit in a cute little vial sufficient for a necklace.
I need a big ol' vat somewhere in the back rooms of Heaven, some kind of giant swimming pool-style container for all the tears I've cried.
Or better yet...
What if the drops of my tears could become the living water that nourishes my soul?
This is precisely the image painted in Psalm 84, and it ought to change our perspective on the way that we weep. It's about adding a level of meaning and depth to our ache and our hurt, about finding what it is that God promises water always brings - goodness, love, and grace.
The Psalmist says that some are able to turn the Valley of Tears - a reservoir worthy of the volume we have wept if ever there was one - into a source of spring water (Psalm 84). Yes, spring water. Living, flowing, bubbling, clean, pure, life-giving spring water, the kind that is painted in images all throughout the Scriptures for us. The kind that gives us access to the greatest gifts of God as they flow through the terrain of our real lives. Where bitter salt water, good for so little, becomes fresh water, necessary for life. The Valley of Tears becomes a source of spring water.
By putting our hope and strength in the Lord.
That's what the Psalmist says. By putting our hope and strength in the Lord, we turn the Valley of Tears into a source of spring water. We turn heartache into hope. We turn death into life. We turn bitterness into refreshedness. What authentically, raw-ly, real-ly pours out of us flows back unfathomably to nourish our souls. By nothing but the grace of God that we choose to recognize and embrace, by His goodness and love and mercy. Living water. Real, vital, living water.