Tears of Joy and Sorrow
I have noticed that crying is a universal expression of both joy and sorrow. This became more evident as I devoted time to intercultural studies at Regent University’s School of Divinity and in my daily life as I lived and worshipped in a multicultural neighborhood and also worked with people from different backgrounds at CBN. No matter our language barriers, cultural differences, or geographic boundaries, tears of joy and of sorrow can be understood across the diverse communities.
There was a season of my life where tears of sorrow flowed often. After the deaths of several family members, friends, and coworkers in ministry, I was heartbroken and sorrowful. I knew that I needed to grieve properly so that I could be well emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in the long term, so I set aside time in the mornings and evenings to process my grief. Some days this meant journaling my thoughts, other days I would let tears flow as they came, while some days I would simply sit and pray.
Although he was in a different time period, the psalmist expressed a similar plight as he lamented,
LORD, God of my salvation, I cry out before you day and night. May my prayer reach your presence; listen to my cry (Psalm 88:1-2 CSB).
The psalmist acknowledged God being his salvation before he cried out to Him during the day and at night. Maybe you find yourself in a season of crying out to God due to your life circumstances or due to the condition of the world. God hears your cries, even if you feel worn out from crying. The psalmist stated in Psalm 88:9,
My eyes are worn out from crying. Lord, I cry out to you all day long; I spread out my hands to you.
Even though he was worn out, he found strength to stretch his hands to God. May we do the same even in moments of fatigue and weakness.
2 Chronicles 20:35-37 35Later, Jehoshaphat king of Judah made an alliance with Ahaziah king of Israel, who was guilty of wickedness. 36He agreed with him to construct a fleet of trading ships. After these were built at Ezion Geber, 37Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the LORD will destroy what you have made.” The ships were wrecked and were not able to set sail to trade.
Jehoshaphat went down in history as a godly king. Like most of the kings, he did not remove the high places. There was always a remnant of idol worship allowed to remain. Those places seemed to be the enemy’s stronghold in Judah that no one had the boldness to conquer. Though Jehoshaphat made his share of mistakes, overall, his heart was after God and he was said to have walked in the ways of Asa his father.
At the end of his life he had a chance to practice a lesson that he had learned early on as a king. Do you remember when he made the alliance with Ahab? A prophet warned him of God’s judgment for loving the one that hated God. ( See August 9.) Ahab was the wickedest king of Israel.
In our passage today, Jehoshaphat again made an alliance with a wicked king of Israel. It was not a war, just a business venture. They teamed up to build some ships. Solomon had imported great amounts of wealth, and perhaps these kings thought that they could do the same. The LORD destroyed those ships before they could set sail.
Jehoshaphat may have justified the situation in his mind saying, “It is only business.” When we learn a lesson, the LORD often allows us to face the temptation again to see if we have really learned it. Is our heart really given to God and not flesh in those situations? Jehoshaphat failed the test a second time and had this blot on his testimony.
Warning: Watch those areas of weakness where you think you have learned a lesson. They may come again to see if your heart has surrendered to God in that area. It is a chance to examine our hearts and see what is not yet surrendered.
‘Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant, whom I have chosen.’ Isaiah 43:10
Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 5:1–5
Some of you have not much to spare when the rent is paid and food is bought, yet with all that, you want no man’s pity, for you are rich to all the intents of bliss. When Mr Hone, who wrote the ‘Every-day Book,’ was travelling through Wales—he was an infidel—he stopped at a cottage to ask for a drink of water, when a little girl said, ‘Oh yes, sir, I have no doubt mother will give you some milk. Come in.’ He went in and sat down. The little girl was reading her Bible. Mr Hone said, ‘Well, my little girl, are you getting your task?’ ‘No, sir, I am not,’ she replied, ‘I am reading the Bible.’ ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘you are getting your task out of the Bible?’ ‘Oh, no,’ she replied, ‘It is no task to read the Bible; I love the Bible.’ ‘And why do you love the Bible?’ said he. Her simple, childlike answer was, ‘I thought everybody loved the Bible.’ She thought full sure it was the greatest treat in all the world, and fancied that everybody else was delighted to read God’s Word. Mr Hone was so touched with the sincerity of that expression, that he read the Bible himself, and instead of being an opponent to the things of God, came to be a friend of divine truth. Let us in the same way show to the people of the world who think our religion to be slavery, that it is a delight and a joy; that it is no more a burden to us to pray than it is for the fish to swim; that it is no more bondage for us to serve God than for a bird to fly. True godliness is our natural element now that we have a new nature given us by the Spirit of God. On that matter be witnesses for God.
For meditation: Do you obey God because you feel you have to or because you really want to? The motive and spirit of our acts of obedience are important to God (2 Corinthians 9:7). Church leaders have the responsibility of fostering the right attitude (1 Peter 5:2–3).
Streams in the Desert – August 13
- 202213 Aug
If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth. Ecclesiastes 11:3
Why, then, do we dread the clouds which now darken our sky? True, for a while they hide the sun, but the sun is not quenched; he will be out again before long. Meanwhile those black clouds are filled with rain; and the blacker they are, the more likely they will yield plentiful showers.
How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the dark chariots of bright grace. These clouds will empty themselves before long, and every tender herb will be gladder for the shower. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with mercy. Our Lord’s love-letters often come to us in black-edged envelopes. His wagons rumble, but they are loaded with benefits. His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. Let us not worry about the clouds, but sing because May flowers are brought to us through the April clouds and showers.
O Lord, the clouds are the dust of Thy feet! How near Thou art in the cloudy and dark day! Love beholds Thee, and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and making the little hills rejoice on every side.
–C H. Spurgeon
What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree–no more
To shelter thee–lets heaven’s blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from thy spirit’s pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.