Blog Archive

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tears in Your Bottle

"A friend sees the first tear,
catches the second,
and stops the third."
~ Justice R.A.E.

(Today's post is part of the
Blog Carnival hosted
by Peter Pollock on "Grief")

Tears in Your Bottle

The LORD is gracious
and full of compassion.
~ Psalms 111:4 (NKJV)

The LORD is good to those
who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope
and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD...
Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion ...
~ Lamentations 3:25-26;32 (NKJV)

You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them.
~ Psalms 56:8 (CEV)

For several days I've considered that grief goes beyond sorrow as the ocean exceeds a pond. And I've pondered these two things: what causes grief, and what grief feels like.

My mind takes the first thought and analyzes that grief is caused by things such as unrealized expectations, loss, and rejection. My reasoning goes on to offer answers like trusting in God's will, giving thanks for what has been before it was lost, and forgiveness.

My heart does not care about where grief comes from or how it shall depart, for my heart does not think grief. My heart feels grief more profoundly than my mind shall ever begin to comprehend it.

When grief calls, its fingertips first stroke my heart stealthily, gliding along the surface until it finds an opening. Grief then slips through vacant cavities, probing for a resting place. When grief at last settles in, the embrace of its tentacles becomes firm—not so as to choke me, but to prevent my escape as it begins its work.

Grief now begins to draw life from me, feeding upon my spirit to nourish itself, depositing death in life's stead. Loss of spirit and life rob me of hunger, of movement, of my very breath. I lie faint as my years multiply, in weariness of the aged.

Having sufficiently weakened me, grief now tightens its grip to choke from me my spirit's last ebb. Shall I passively succumb?

The Lord Jesus knew profound grief. He created goodness, bestowed grace, and put on flesh to pour out Himself for His beloved people. He was then scorned, injured and rejected by those to whom He'd given His best. The final blow came in being forsaken by His Father.

Did scourges and nails take His life any more than grief? Our Lord shed His first drops of blood at the hands of neither Roman guards nor minions of Jewish elders, but in Gethsemane. He did not passively succumb to death, but actively entrusted His spirit to His Father.

This must likewise be my choice when grief holds me in its clutches. I must actively commit my spirit to my Father in Heaven. If I am a prisoner to grief, I must entrust my captive heart to the One powerful enough to set it free—to the One Who has promised to wipe away my every tear, for He collects every one.

And He calls each one who is His, "Friend."

Peace I leave with you,
My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid.
~ John 14:27 (NKJV)

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Artwork titled COLLECT MY TEARS IN THY BOTTLE; Artist: Sandra Perini


  1. "My heart feels grief more profoundly than my mind shall ever begin to comprehend it." SO true. I felt every word.

  2. This deeply touched my heart. I praise God for walking me through my grief when I lost my momma and big brother. I love you dear sis.

  3. Such beautiful post! In the midst of our grief, Jesus, the Prince of Peace walks in! Thank you God for sending peace in the midst of storm of grief!

  4. Grief, like love, always exists in the context of relationships. When our sense of self is tested or altered, because of shifting relationships, either grief or love are present. Grief and Love are sisters.

    Most problems arise when we struggle to prevent ourselves from experiencing either. The fight to not experience grief, not the grief itself, brings a lot of people to my office.

    We hold onto love, but let her sister grief pass on through. I wonder if it is not the human heart that sometimes clings tenaciously to grief.

    Blessings Anne, you have given me a lot to consider.

  5. We "should" hold onto love, but let her sister grief pass on through...

  6. "The Lord Jesus knew profound grief." That hit me right upside the head. He knew it at the tomb of Lazarus, in Gethsemane and on Golgotha. Thanks for this post, Anne.

  7. Well written. You captured what I've known as grief.

    ~ Wendy

  8. I experienced sorrow but grief not.

  9. You're channeling David- you could write your own Psalms. David learned the same lesson: even though he felt grief paralyzing him as you described, he always returned to the sovereignty of God. Great reflection, thanks!

  10. How long have I been away? Your site looks great!

    Anyway, on to my comment. I love the Scripture you quoted above: "You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them."

    Nobody even took the time of their lives to wipe a single teardrop from my eyes, let alone stored it in bottles AND counting each of them! Says a lot about what kind of God we serve.

  11. Excellent post!
    Love this line ... "My heart feels grief more profoundly than my mind shall ever begin to comprehend it."
    I can relate to that ... so much truth in there.

  12. Excellent thoughts. Thank you Anne.

  13. T. Anne, we are creatures of both head and heart. With His power, the heart can feel what the mind knows is true.

    Denise, thank you for your testimony of His power through the grief.

    Bible Lover, though I used the metaphor of fingers, grief is indeed a storm and flood—"when sorrows like sea billows roll."

    Peter, glad to have you here today.

    Glynn, I did not elaborate here, but I believe our closest fellowship with God comes in shared grief. It will one day be in fullness of shared joy.

    Wendy, there is indeed beauty in grief if one finds in it fellowship with divinity.

    Natasa, I am grateful that while I'm well acquainted with sorrow, grief has visited less often.

    Fatha Frank, I trust that the same Spirit in David may show up here on occasion.

    Jojo, (*sigh*) however often the tears have spilled unobserved by a friend, not a one has fallen to the ground outside the sight of our Friend.

    Janet, the irony of this post is I wish it was not well understood by many.

    Kristie, thank you for being here. I hope you've been blessed.

    Russell ... I will be back.

  14. jasonS, how did I miss you? Hello! Thanks for stopping in.

    Susan, I sense in your posts the tenderness of a heart that has known grief. I also sense the peace that transcends grief.

    Kevin, thanks for being here. I'm working my way back to the blog carnival later. Looking forward to your post.

    Russell, still thinking ...

  15. "And He calls each one who is His, "Friend."

    Beautifully written, Anne.

  16. Russell,

    Though not while fresh from the trenches of grief, I once wrote (as a guest blogger), "Neither genuine love nor true passion shrinks at the point of pain." Or, as you so eloquently state, Love and Grief are sisters.

    But when pain leaves a heart raw and bleeding, self-preservation begs withdrawal. If the grief is the result of long-sustained injury, or continuing injury, I'm not certain that withdrawal does not become temporarily necessary. The classic scenario is the battered wife who separates from an abuser, while continuing to work for reconciliation.

    I agree with you that withdrawal should never be seen as ultimate solution. We are called to love. To refuse love in battle against grief is not only futile, but makes a heart cold, hard, and numb. It is a living death.

    So I suppose the challenge for counselors is to depend upon The Counselor for the wisdom which knows when "the point of pain" has become injurious and it is time to temporarily pull back from "shifting relationships"; and to receive from The Comfortor the inspiration and strength which compels us to never, ever withdraw from love.

  17. In my mind there is a difference between grief and the kind of "pain" that is generated by abuse or neglect, and "grief."

    Grief is a transition point. Pain born of injury is not.

    Grieving a loss or missed opportunity helps us transition, and that is why it is important to allow ourselves to experience grief. Not hold it back. If we do not allow ourselves to grieve, we run the likelihood of getting stuck in our pain. People afraid of growth sometimes hold on to their grief. Others fight to not acknowledge their grief, a fight they cannot ultimately win . . . and in the end pay a much higher price.

    Jesus grieved and blessed grieving in the beatitudes.

    Abusive relationships are a different story all together. That is not grief in my mind.

    You make me think Anne! Thanks... :-)

  18. My grammar is all over the place. First paragraph should read:

    In my mind there is a difference between grief and the kind of "pain" that is generated by abuse or neglect.

  19. Bridget, however close or casual the relationship, the word "Friend" is precious. Jesus would not have used it lightly. And like the words, "I love you," I do not think often using the word "friend" cheapens it. I'm privileged to count you among my friends.

  20. Russell, help me out here.

    "Grief is a transition point. Pain born of injury is not... Abusive relationships are ... not grief in my mind"

    I've observed that traumatic pain often includes a loss to be grieved. If a marriage has been violated by abuse or an affair, there is a loss of trust. I've seen women go through a process of grieving after suffering emotional trauma, whether or not the relationship continued. Can you buy into this? Or is there a better perspective I might have?

    I am in complete agreement with you about the need to both adequately grieve and not wallow in it, regardless of grief's cause. Part of the recovery process often seems to be having one's grief validated by another person. I think this is why even if we offer only our silence, our precence is important when others grieve.

    Incidently, I find great comfort in your insight that Jesus blessed grieving in the beatitudes.

  21. It seems odd that I find peace and comfort in a beautifully written post on grief. But I did, and I'm grateful. Thank you, Anne.

  22. We are in agreement, any lose or lost opportunity can be grieved.

    You said that you know women who, 'go through the process of grieving after suffering.'

    ... grieving "AFTER" suffering ... is the key here. Grieving takes place after suffering. Suffering takes place while injury is being perpetrated, grieving, when done properly, is a healing/growth process. -- Remember, people can get trapped in their grief, too. usually when they are afraid of change.

    One thing we have not yet talked about is how forgiveness impacts the process.

    In the case of injury, grieving can begin before forgiveness takes place, but cannot be fully realized without forgiveness.

    Two Possibilities:

    1. Suffering -> Separation to stop continued injury -> Forgiveness/Reconciliation.

    2. Suffering -> Separation to stop continued injury -> Forgiveness/Grieving.

    Thanks Anne... You make me think!

  23. One other danger I left out is that often people will ignore the need to grieve, and this is where the big problems often crop up later: Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Addiction, Self-harming behavior...

  24. Candace, we serve a God Who always and forever (not the same) gives us beauty for ashes.

  25. Russell, we've also not addressed anger and healing, nor the denial-anger-bargaining-depression-acceptance model (did I miss any?), which I'm not sure I buy into.

    It's going to take me some time to process all this. I have one friend in particular I still hope to help. And of course, applying everything to one's self is always the biggest challenge.

    I'm grateful for wisdom from you, and especially from the Holy Spirit, Who I am confident will enrich me from all of this—better enabling me in the encouragment and comfort I feel called to minister on His behalf.

  26. Russell,

    It occurs to me that suffering and grief are not necessarily successive. For instance, watching a loved one die of a terminal illness is both shared suffering and grieving.

    Your education, experience and encouragement are invaluable contributions to this discussion. I'm already learning much as I filter it all through the Lord in prayer.

    Thanks, Russell.

  27. Yes I agree any form of suffering or loss, is in need of grieving. I deeply believe that God made grieving so that we can be empowered. I've learned so much by reading all the post on grief. Thank you all.

  28. Bernadette, we'll keep grieving and learning until the day we stand at the throne. There, our Lord "wipes away every tear." I'm so very glad you're here.


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