I Wonder If God Has a Tear Bottle

by Lieanne Lara

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? – Psalm 56:8.

While surfing the internet to gather some ideas for sermonette for kids, I came across the story of the tear bottle. I had never heard of it and I never knew it has a very captivating history.

laraThe tear bottle tradition has historically been a mourning tradition. They were prevalent in ancient Rome and Egypt, when mourners would collect their tears and bury them with loved ones to show love and respect.

It reappeared during the Victorian period of the 19th century, when those mourning the loss of loved ones would collect their tears in bottles with special stoppers that allowed the tears to evaporate. When the tears had evaporated, the mourning period would end. In some American Civil War stories, women were said to have cried into tear bottles and saved them until their husbands returned from battle. Their collected tears would show the men how much they were adored and missed.

Out of curiosity, I’ve checked how it looks like. I found out that it is very symbolic and a bit profound. How ironic. It’s beautiful yet its purpose was a bit depressing. No matter how expensive or beautiful it is, it is still made to collect tears.

It became more interesting to me when I found out that tear bottle also appeared in the Bible when King David prayed to God, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Psalm 56:8. It was when he was being pursued by Saul on one side and surrounded by Philistines in the city of Goliath on the other. He asked God to remember his tears.

Like King David, there were times in my life that I prayed to God to remember my tears. Have you ever been in a situation when you didn’t know what to pray for? Many times here in Korea, I have found myself kneeling in prayer, broken-hearted and crying a puddle of tears while thinking about my family way back home. I’ve always been so worried about my brother who has been suffering from a blood related disease called ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) for almost two years, and my 86-year old grandmother who was so weak because of many complications.

Tears are silent prayers, they said. I didn’t utter words but my burdens brought me to tears as I talked to God. I was so worried with my family especially with my grandparents. I wanted my grandmother’s suffering to end but I knew it would mean that my grandfather had to live alone. I couldn’t even imagine it for I witnessed how much he loved my grandmother.

I never realized I was worrying too much. I even thought of how God would answer my prayer. Then He showed me that He has His way in answering our prayers, and that would always be for the best, no matter how painful it is.

Early morning on the 18th of December 2013, the day after my grandmother was discharged from the hospital, my grandfather was found on their bed at peace. And since my grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, that saved her from the agony of losing a husband.

I went back to the Philippines and spent most of the time with my family especially with my grandmother. It took a few days for her to remember me again but I ‘m thankful to have spent time with her. After a week, I left with a heavy heart.

We were still grieving for the loss of our grandfather when my grandmother breathed her last several weeks later. I was alone when I heard the news and the only thing that I could do was to cry in prayer.

The Bible provides a lot of promises to comfort us when we are in pain. Yet when we are put into a tough situation, we still have the tendency to ask God why. We doubt, we fail to have the faith, we err, we stumble and sometimes, we fall. I am aware that God won’t give anything we can’t handle but like any other tasks, clinging into God’s promises is easier said than done. No matter how many Bible verses I know, it felt like they weren’t enough.

The only answer that God has given is Jesus. He reminded me the shortest in the entire Bible which says, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). It says that when He saw Mary weeping for her brother who had died, he cried too. That is the same Jesus whom we believe. He completely understands the feeling of a brokenhearted.

I am amazed because of the peace and strength that God’s presence gives. No problem has the capacity to be insurmountable for Him. He is bigger than all the problems that can hit us, and we are not left alone to deal with them. When teardrops begin to fall, surely there must be angels also watching. And God would always send them to comfort the ones who are dear to Jesus’ heart.

King David’s prayer is a remarkable insight into the tender heart of our heavenly Father. He has a tear bottle. Maybe it’s not literal but it made me realize that our Lord sees every tear that falls as He looks from heaven’s portals. He knows each sorrow of our heart and is touched by the feelings of our infirmities. It is so comforting that when we cry, he cries with us. But it is even more comforting that one day, we will be together with Him and there will be no more tears.

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His Wonderful Ways

by Melvin Baclay (29th Batch)

Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. Psalm 40:5 KJV

Breath defying belly laughs. Sleepless nights. Heartfelt activities. Meeting of old and new friends. Inspiring messages.

These are just some of the memories stored in my brain during that special gathering. The retreat, though spiritually reviving, was physically exhausting.

If the  goal was to teach missionaries important lessons on physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects of life, I can say that it has achieved its goal in me and in many others as well. It is now up to us to put those lessons into action.

But God doesn’t really get tired of  teaching us lessons because the day after the retreat, He taught me a new one. And I liked it. I like it when He teaches me even through sufferings, inconveniences and stressful moments because it makes me feel loved and cared for. It makes me even realize that God must really love me so much to be so concerned with my spiritual growth.

So it was Monday. Mondays are normally not friendly to me and that day wasn’t anything different. Still feeling the physical after-effects of the retreat, with five consecutive classes ahead, I wished it were a holiday. But of course dreams and realities are two different things and that became more apparent when students started coming in.

A little later, having no choice, I started my classroom routine. A little scolding, occasional yawning and a few laughs were the extra ingredients that have helped me get through my four straight classes. Then came Chelsea, Rick and Amy aged 7, 8 and 10. They are young but they have exceptional abilities to push you to the limit of your patience, temperance, self-control and understanding. And I admit they had been successful in reaching my breaking point a few times before. That day, in their attempts, I only responded with a low voice, clenched fist, deep sighs, smiles and silent prayers. But still, doing so was never easy.

Right after dismissing them, I slumped on my chair, leaned back, faced up, closed my eyes, feeling physically, mentally and emotionally over drained. Then I heard Zion, my pastor’s two-year-old son calling my name, “Teacher Melvin! Teacher Melvin!” (which actually sounded like “tichay Meebee”).

When I walked out of my room, with his cute smile, he came running towards me saying  my name. I gave him a hug and carried him in my arms.  He looked at me, touched my face and said, “tichay Meebee” then kissed me.

There was magic in those innocent gestures that took away  the negative feelings  Monday had brought me.  Zion is an angel and God is wonderful. It wasn’t just a coincidence. It was a God-directed scene and the goal was to touch, teach and heal my tired soul.

God uses anything and anyone to show us that He cares: a friend, a teacher, a book, a flower or even a stranger. In my case, he used Zion, a little child, as His instrument to tell me that He cares.

In every circumstance, God sees. And if we look closely, we will see that in His perfect time, He works wonders that may even defy human understanding.

God Sent an Angel

by Julius Francis Requina (35th Batch)

On the first few weeks of being in my mission field (Pungsan Church), I was so lonely. Everything was new to me–the place, the people, the language, the culture, food, and most of all, the weather. I had a hard time adjusting to the freezing cold. I felt so lonely, like a complete stranger in my place. But in my heart, I would always say to myself that I must be strong because I’m here to serve the Lord and I know that He is with me all the way. So I spent most of my time praying and asking the Lord for the strength to carry on.

At the end of the second week, I received invitations to join the tracts distribution together with the other missionaries in SEKC (South Eastern Korean Conference) at Yeongju City. I was excited with the thought of joining, knowing that I can see my fellow missionaries and also my batch mates who are here in Korea. I prayed about it and the next day I asked my pastor and his wife if I could possibly go. They were hesitant to let me go since I was just here for barely two weeks. But because I really begged, they allowed me to go.

The tracts distribution was scheduled on a Sunday morning so I headed to the terminal on that Saturday afternoon, right after the youth program in my church ended. That was around 5:30, the sun had just set and the neon lights lighted up the whole town of Pungsan. A senior missionary gave me a sketch map and instructed me to take a bus from my place to Andong bus terminal. From there, I needed to take another bus to Yeongju where they will wait for me.

With that plan, I took the bus to Andong City. While I was in the bus, I had mixed feelings of excitement and worry but I kept on praying. I turned on my mp3 player and listened to gospel songs, believing that the bus will surely take me to the exact bus terminal. But after 20 minutes I was getting worried because I remembered my pastor saying that it would only take 15 minutes for the bus to take me to Andong. It had been 30 minutes since we departed and we were still on the go. My heart started pumping hard and my eyes were frantically looking outside, trying to find some English signs for me to know my location.

An hour had gone by and I was still on the bus. I noticed that it took its route around the city, stopping from station to station, taking and sending off commuters. After more than an hour in the bus, I declared myself lost. Then finally the bus reached its destination and it was only me and the driver who were left inside. When the bus stopped, the driver looked at me and threw me a lot of Korean words which I didn’t understand. But I managed to say these words to him: “Andong bus terminal?”

Then he spoke with an action indicating that this place is not the terminal. When I looked around, I realized that we are at the bus’ garage. I looked at my watch and it was already 7:30 p.m. Then I asked myself what I could do. I don’t have a cellular phone and what about the people who were waiting for me at Yeongju bus terminal? I have so many questions at that point. The driver then led me to the closest bus stop, saying more Korean words that I couldn’t understand at all.

I stood there at the bus stop, alone and shivering as the temperature dropped to -8 degrees Celsius. While waiting for another bus, I started to pray in my heart saying, “Lord, I know that You are there watching over me and You know where I am now…Please take me to Yeongju tonight.” Before I could say amen, the bus came and stopped right in front of me and so I climbed in and told the driver that I was going to Andong bus terminal. I also requested him to inform me should we arrive there because I didn’t know the place. The driver said “OK” and so I felt better.

After 20 minutes of travel, I asked him again if we were almost there. In fact, I did ask him for three times that he seemed irritated as he answered me, “OK! OK! OK!” I had to do what I needed to do because he might forget. As I walked back to my seat, I heard some familiar words: “Pre, doon din ako pupunta.” ( Friend, I’m headed that way, too.) He continued, “Don’t worry; this bus will surely take us there.”

At that time, I told myself that the Lord really hears me. Just in time when I needed help, here came a Filipino to the rescue. We continued talking until we arrived at the terminal. Then at the terminal, the man told me to follow him so I just followed. He bought tickets for the two of us and he even led me to the bus that will take me to Yeongju. Before he left, I managed to ask his name and he said, “I’m Edwin Miranda. Okay friend, take care of yourself. Don’t worry about anything because you will not be lost. I have to go now.” So I said, “Thanks” and wanted to stop him so that I can pay for my ticket but he left.

At the bus I was very thankful and felt at ease at last. Then I realized that I just saw an angel in the form of a man. It wasn’t just a coincidence. God sent him to help me and he paid for my ticket, too. Now I know that I have nothing to worry about because God is always there taking care of me. Then I remembered that God was there with Joseph in Egypt, and He was there with Daniel and his friends in Babylon, and I’m really sure that God is with me now here in Korea. That night I arrived at Yeongju Church safe and sound, and my spirit was lifted up when I saw my co-missionaries welcoming me with their big smiles.

God said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18) So from that moment, I put away all my worries and fears for I know that God is with me.