'My chronic pain is relentless but I can cry my tears out to God'
Anthea’s story | It’s okay to weep and grieve
“I’ve had severe, chronic pain for the last 13 years. It’s caused by a combination of health conditions and it affects my whole body. It’s relentless … and impossible to escape – every day and every night the pain is there.”
“Sometimes I can’t leave the house, or even leave my bed. I can’t even describe it to you. It feels like there’s no part of my life that pain hasn’t impacted – all my daily activities, work, social life, church, finances, relationships … everything. It makes doing even the simplest of tasks a huge challenge. Some days tying my shoelaces, or making a phone call can end up feeling like a hard-won victory.
“But for a while now, I’ve been thinking about tears. Psalm 126:5 says that ‘Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.’ I’ve cried so many tears! But what does it mean for me to ‘sow in tears’? I’ve been pondering it for years. It tells me firstly that it’s okay to have tears. God somehow expects tears, and he collects them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). I often think that God better have a really big bottle, in my case! But we also know that Jesus wept when Lazarus died (John 11:35). Jesus grieved over his friend. That tells me it’s okay to weep and grieve.
“Maybe we have three options. On the one hand, we could try and squash our tears, or prevent them from coming out. That wouldn’t work very well in my case! Or, alternatively, we could let our tears be the master of us. That’s not great either. It can lead to despair.
“But there is a third way. God says that we can cry our tears out to him, and he hears us. I’ve been picturing lately, all my tears falling onto a parched land. They drop onto dry, cracked soil, one by one, but over time, growth comes, maybe a tiny plant. When I offer my tears to God, he takes them and uses them. I don’t know what the little plant will be yet. But God promises me that my tears won’t be wasted. They might even be like rain and refreshment for someone else.
“And there is a promise at the end of Revelation that I hold on to. When Jesus returns and restores everything, God will tenderly wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4). Won’t that be beautiful?”