Allowing the Tears

Allowing the Tears

I must confess that most of my life has been spent away from God. Like so many others, I knew of God, but… I did not know God. To compound matters, I did not care about God in any way that would have translated into my having a personal relationship with Him. God was something, somewhere, and that was all I knew or wanted to know. I was living my own life, responsible to no one but myself, and living it badly, into the bargain. I was an immature, self-centered person, seeking pleasure and fulfillment from the world and what it had to offer. That I could find neither pleasure nor fulfillment was entirely beside the point: I did what I wanted to do, regardless of what the consequences, potential or real, might be or were, with the terrible collateral damage of hurting many people along the way. I committed many sins, and I was unrepentant of them all.

Starting in 2001, I commenced the start of a journey back to God when I started attending an evangelical church in the wake of the forever infamous 911 disaster. Like so many other people, I was literally shaken to my core as a result of witnessing the falling of the World Trade Center towers into little more than dust, thereby witnessing the wanton slaughter of thousands of our nation’s citizens on our own soil by a cold and black-hearted enemy. Why did something like this happen to a nation that had always considered itself under God’s protection? Would unbridled evil now settle in the midst of our nation, never to depart? It became clear that no man had the answers, so the only alternative was to turn to God.

I had found a church home, but I had not found God.

Many years later, a teacher and mentor of mine in the church body I had joined remarked, ‘Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.’

I had not found God, and why I had not found God was evident from the following passage of Holy Scripture which I had conveniently side-stepped (italic emphasis mine):

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

By this time, I had joined the church body as an official member, and was getting involved with the teaching and welcome ministries. However, I did not know God because I denied His power in my life. Just one example of this was my daily use of alcohol. On September 14, 2009, I personally witnessed the power of God in my life and came to understand that it was greater than any power of man or any power in the worlds that are both seen and unseen. For a moving testimony regarding a beautiful woman of God whose faith could not be shaken even in the face of certain death, and the effect of that faith on my life, read this.

Welcome back!

Once one understands the power that God has to change lives, and accepts the provision that God has made for the forgiveness of sins (His Son Jesus Christ), that person is completely and irrevocably changed:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Additionally, that person is sealed by the Holy Spirit as God’s precious possession:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

When a person is in Christ, that person’s nature changes in that there is no longer an all-consuming interest in the things of this world: in its place is an all-consuming interest in the things of God. A person desires, and indeed is hungry for, God’s Word, has a desire to communicate and walk with God, and is ready to serve God’s interests and His people in whatever roles God calls that person to.

What I discovered was that I could recall past sins that I had committed (many in more detail than I cared to remember), and the people who were harmed by them. In more ways than one, such remembrances were a ready-made, portable prison that I could not escape from, and they were a burden almost impossible to carry, so great was my guilt and shame. It would be a long time before I could understand the comfort of Holy Scripture: that God had forgiven me:

For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. (Psalm 25:11)

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD” – and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:1-5)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom
in the inmost place. (Psalm 51:1-6)

When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. (Psalm 65:3)

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. (Psalm 79:9)

You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger. (Psalm 85:2-3)

You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. (Psalm 86:5-7)

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. (Psalm 103:8-18)

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” (Romans 4:4-8)

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:1-5)

As can be seen, there is Holy Scripture to support the premise that God forgives the sins of those who turn to Him… even the great prophet Isaiah was overwhelmed when he was called by God into His service, but we should consider ourselves to be empowered by God just as much as Isaiah was:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:1-7)

Read and understand a great truth: our guilt is taken away and our sin atoned for.

So what do I mean by ‘allowing the tears?’. What I mean is that when past sins are remembered, we do not allow them to consume us to the point of being rendered useless in God’s service. This is what the evil one does… he whispers in our ears that we are unfit for service to God, that we can never be of use to Him because of what we have done. That is a lie, from the father of lies, who has been lying from the beginning, and who is a murderer on top of everything else that he has done in his vain attempts to destroy what God made and intended for good. Understand that the victory has already been won:

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:10-12)

A part of ‘allowing the tears’ is a sense of Godly sorrow for what one has done. Understand that it is important to have Godly, as opposed to worldly, sorrow:

Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it – I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. (2 Corinthians 7:8-11)

Godly sorrow is different from worldly sorrow because of exactly (and only) what the above passage indicates: it brings repentance for what one has done, which is a turning away from those inclinations, thoughts and behaviors that belong to the ‘old nature’.

In repenting of what I have done against a holy and righteous God, I shed tears because I am filled with Godly sorrow for what I have done that condemned my LORD and Savior Jesus Christ to the cruelest and most horrific of deaths, in order that the penalty of eternal death in the lake of fire would be paid in full, so that I might stand blameless before God. It was with every sin I committed that the nails were driven deeper into His hands and feet, it was with every evil thought that the thorns were pressed with agonizing force into His head, and it was with every selfish act that the spear was driven deeper into His side. With all my being, I willingly choose to thank Jesus Christ for the death that He willingly chose to suffer so that a worthless, wretched sinner like me could know eternal life in God’s Kingdom.

It is in our nature to petition God, many times with our tears:

My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; (Job 16:20)

I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. (Psalm 6:6)

My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:3)

Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll – are they not in your record? (Psalm 56:8)

For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears (Psalm 102:9)

For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:8-9)

Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed. (Psalm 119:116)

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:5-6)

Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people. (Jeremiah 9:1)

Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids. (Jeremiah 9:18)

But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD’s flock will be taken captive. (Jeremiah 13:17)

“Speak this word to them: ” ‘Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing; for my virgin daughter – my people – has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow. (Jeremiah 14:17)

“In those days, at that time,” declares the LORD, “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. (Jeremiah 50:4)

How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave. Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies. (Lamentations 1:1-2)

“The Lord has rejected all the warriors in my midst; he has summoned an army against me to crush my young men. In his winepress the Lord has trampled the Virgin Daughter of Judah. “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed.” (Lamentations 1:15-16)

The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord. O wall of the Daughter of Zion, let your tears flow like a river day and night; give yourself no relief, your eyes no rest. (Lamentations 2:18)

Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed. (Lamentations 3:48)

Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. (Malachi 2:13)

It is also in our nature to ‘cry out’ to God:

“I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. (Job 30:20)

To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. (Psalm 3:4)

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. (Psalm 5:2)

The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. (Psalm 6:9)

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalm 18:6)

O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. (Psalm 22:2)

For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. (Psalm 22:24)

Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. (Psalm 28:2)

Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. (Psalm 28:6)

In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. (Psalm 31:22)

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)

“Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were. (Psalm 39:12)

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. (Psalm 55:17)

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. (Psalm 57:2)

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. (Psalm 61:1)

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. (Psalm 84:2)

Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. (Psalm 86:6-7)

O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. (Psalm 88:1-2)

But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. (Psalm 88:13)

Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. (Psalm 102:1-2)

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. (Psalm 116:1)

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. (Psalm 119:147)

May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word. (Psalm 119:169)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. (Psalm 130:1-2)

O LORD, I say to you, “You are my God.” Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy. (Psalm 140:6)

I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. (Psalm 142:1)

I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. (Psalm 142:5-6)

O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. (Psalm 143:1)

He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:19)

Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: “Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?” (Jeremiah 8:19)

Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. (Joel 1:14)

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. (Jonah 2:1-2)

Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done. (Micah 3:4)

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

To all of us as the children of God, I say that it is good to cry out to the Lord with our petitions, and it is just and right to shed our tears in Godly sorrow for what we have done that has angered and offended a just, pure, holy and righteous God. Allow your tears, for they please the Lord who suffer Godly sorrow and repent of their sins. Remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ also cried out to God and shed tears:

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (Hebrews 5:7)

All things will be made new… how glorious the promise the KING of kings and the LORD of lords gives!

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

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