'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
During the 1800’s an event occurred that has been called one of the all-time tragedies of American history. It is referred to in this way, not necessarily because it was the largest, but primarily because of the depth of the sorrow and suffering of those involved. Also, it was so tragic because of the seeming cruelty and insensitivity of those who were directly or indirectly responsible. The suffering was so intense that it is simply called "The Trail of Tears". The event concerns the trek of a tribe of American Indians from their normal habitations toward the north country in midst of one of the most severe winters in memory at that time. They had little or no food, they were sick, pursued, with babies and small children dying with every mile of agonizing movement farther and farther north, as the weather became more and more bitter. The story has been told and retold in history, and by a few eye-witnesses. The suffering that took place, along with countless others throughout world history, will never be comprehended except by God alone. The tears that were shed is incalculable.
Tears is a relatively large subject in God’s Word. But Tears is not nearly so large a subject as War - which, of course, causes many if not most of those tears! So many tears were shed by God’s people from the beginning that they watered the land with their tears (Exodus 2:23). It must have seemed so to them. Often it was the result of their own disobedience, but sometimes not it would seem (Ecclesiastes 9:11). There have been everything from plagues, weather disasters, to wars of unimaginable violence and cruelty. A comprehensive history of the world could be written just by recording and enumerating the wars alone. In world history there have been relatively few years of real peace, even by using the broadest definition of "peace"! How MANY tears have there been since God created Man on the earth?
There are "tears of joy" or happiness in relation to many others things, too. However, we must admit that most of the tears of this world are tears of sorrow, sadness, loneliness, and many other negative causes. In thinking about the subject of tears, I have begun to realize just how universal tears are. There seem to be very few "tears of happiness" and joy. To the contrary, tears of sadness are increasing - for perhaps hundreds of different reasons (Ecclesiastes 1:18). For some, their whole lives seem to have been a long "trail of tears". Sometimes our tears are tears of sorrow, but SHED BECAUSE OF INTENSE LOVE. Many times in our lives, we agonize over someone who is very dear to us. These can be tears of concern and empathy, in the spirit of entering into someones trouble or trial. The occasions of these tears are as varied as there are human inclinations and personalities (2 Corinthians 2:4). As we see, the Apostle Paul shed many tears on behalf of the Christians he pastored - he loved them dearly, with a self-sacrificing love, the love of Christ living in him (Acts 20:19; 2 Timothy 1:4). The Psalms of David are laced with occasions in his life filled with sorrows, crying with MANY TEARS! (Psalm 69, etc.) At other times in the life of a Christian, there are tears that come from simply serving God - no matter what capacity that might be. The journey of a true child of God is just that - a journey - a "trail" down which we all must travel. Contact with the world often brings avoidance when it realizes we are Christians, and especially if the word "Jesus" is mentioned. On that trail, there are pitfalls, encounters, confrontations, accidents, difficulties and dangers that God allows for the the eternal purpose - our maturity. As we strive to change, this allows Jesus to more and more live His life in us. We begin to be formed in His image (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
Sometimes our tears are tears of regret for failing in some way - sometimes for an offense, or having been overcome by sin, or just not being the persons God would have us be. In an enigmatic way, when we fail in rightousness, if our hearts are right with God, it humbles us. Jesus can use even our failtures for our good. After all, He knew we would fail - He provided for this in the cross. This should lead us to the sorrow of repentance, that will result in complete forgiveness and relieve of the quilt, and finally our feelings of regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). He will ALWAYS forgive a repentant and softened heart - always (Matthew 12:20)! Sometimes, it is tears from trials we must endure. I feel that trials for true Christians are often of long duration. This is the way Godly character is built. It takes time and molding (Isaiah 64:8). If you have not had many tears as yet, you probably will. When, those tears come, there is only ONE who can and will completely identify with your tears. God is VERY AWARE OF OUR TEARS (Isaiah 38:5). Only HE can completely comfort you. He will use others somewhere in the process of His comforting. But Jesus Christ is the One behind it all - He is the One closest to you when the tears come - if of course you have drawn or will draw close to Him.
There is hidden in the wonderful fifty third chapter if Isaiah something that I believe is very important to those who are of many tears:
"He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely HE HAS BORNE OUR GRIEFS AND CARRIED OUR SORROWS; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:3-6 ESV). Jesus has ALREADY BORNE our griefs and sorrows, and that would include our tears! He knows as NO ONE ELSE the meaning of sorrow, grief, and TEARS!
The most striking account in all the Bible concerning sorrow and tears is the one of Jesus’ last night as He prayed in the Garden:
"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with LOUD CRIES AND TEARS, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:7-9 ESV). Jesus’ life in many aspects was a "trail of tears". This was His Prayer of Tears - all of this He did for us (Luke 22:44). There is a glorification of God in suffering that only God and those who have been through it understand. Jesus understands! In the Garden He cried loud and with many tears! Then, as He died He carried OUR grief and sorrows with Him. HE TOOK THEM UPON HIMSELF when He went to the cross (Hebrews 4:15-16) - the longest trail of tears in all of history. Yes, we will still have the sorrows and tears, but we do not have to CARRY the BURDEN - He has already carried it for us, in our stead! - if we will GIVE IT TO HIM, if we will LET THE BURDEN GO, and if we will come to KNOW HIM! The only way to understand what Jesus’ life means, and what the Bible means, is to KNOW Jesus Christ. Actually, the only way to UNDERSTAND LIFE, is through knowing Jesus Christ. Literally - we must come to KNOW Him. THEN we can "see" what He means. THEN we can apply the Word of God in every part of our lives. The Holy Spirit will then "apply" Jesus Christ, the Living Word (John 1:1), in our heart and spirit...
As long as we are in this flesh, there will always be some tears. Sometimes, there are many. However, if we will place our tears, our everything in the hands of Jesus Christ, who is alive, and knows our every concern, our every worry, our every thought - our EVERY tear, He will carry the burden, and provide the strength to endure it all. He will not remove the emotions, the feelings, the sorrow or hurt. But He will see us through it all. Through it all, we will learn to trust in Jesus. If we had never had the problems, we would never have known that God could solve them (Lamentations 3:23; Philippians 4:13)! There is one holy, sacred and sanctified reason for our tears - THEY PURIFY OUR HEARTS, to become like God’s own heart (1 Peter 5:10). Think of this - would you like to live an eternity with someone with a heart that was flawed, and subject to sin, insensitive, unforgiving, unrelenting, and unwise? - that can be the condition of OUR HEARTS, if they have not been cleansed and purified - TEARS may be God's cleansing agent of choice (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4)! And there is only one reason for that - God loves us so much, and always has. He has already promised that He remembers our sins no more forever (Hebrews 8:12). Through all of these things, we have the gentle comfort and assurance from the Holy Spirit that God NEVER forgets our tears - He KEEPS THEM in remembrance. This is attested to by this beautiful verse: "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" (Psalm 56:8). God gathers our tears and they are kept. In addition, they are recorded in a book. God will never forget our tears...!
Does your life sometimes seem like a "trail of tears"?
If so, its OK to cry. Its OK to shed tears. David did. The Apostle Paul did. Jesus did! ALL are partakers of this discipline. Just remember you are never alone in your tears (Deuteronomy 31:6). That’s because they have an ETERNAL PURPOSE more valuable than gold! He is there - he cares and feels every emotion, every pain that you are feeling (Hebrews 4:15). That’s because He has already carried the burden - on the cross! Wait. Endure. Be patient (Psalm 46:10). He will someday rid us of all the painful REMEMBERANCE of all that caused our tears (Isaiah 65:17)!
"Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]" (Hebrews 13:5 Amplified Bible). In the original Greek, there is the triple affirmation by Jesus: He "will not, will not, will not, ever forsake us!
What an incredible and blessed assurance we have! When there are tears, CLAIM THIS WONDERFUL PROMISE as being especially for you...because IT IS! Until then - HE will carry the burden. But for a little while, He asks that we carry THE MEMORY...(Psalm 126:5).
Perhaps He may say of you: "I KNOW you - I remember YOUR TEARS!"...
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