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Tuesday Thoughts 3-19-19

“Not all tears are an evil.” So says the wizard Gandalf at the end of the J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.  And as you might guess (in case you don’t know), it was spoken at a supremely sad parting of the ways after years of life-and-death adventures together. There are appropriate times to weep!  But there are also times where tears flow for the wrong reasons.  A recent morning Bible reading included both Old and New Testament examples of weeping (both in chapter 14 of each book).  In the Old Testament book of Numbers, God’s people wept because instead of trusting His promise to lead them into a new and lush land (that would require battle to gain), they yearned for the land of their slavery, where it seemed less was required of them, “Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night…“If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” Numbers 14:1–2 (NLT).  And in the New Testament book of Mark, Peter, who would later lead the new church, wept when he was reminded by a bird call that Jesus had predicted his betrayal, “Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.”  Mark 14:72 (NLT).  For the wandering Hebrews, the tears were an evil.  For Peter, they were appropriate tears of repentance.  Jesus, the One we are following, sets the example for weeping too.  The shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” John 11:35 finds the Savior shedding tears of empathy for those who were mourning the loss of a significant person (even though he was about to bring him back to life).  In the Luke account of Jesus ministry, we see him crying in heartfelt sorrow over a people who refused to be saved, “But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41–42 (NLT).  And the last tears he sheds are for his own personal ordeal of suffering that was just about to begin, which ended in his crucifixion, “God had the power to save Jesus from death. And while Jesus was on earth, he begged God with loud crying and tears to save him. He truly worshiped God, and God listened to his prayers.”  Hebrews 5:7 (CEV).  The difference between “evil” and appropriate tears is the will of God.  Why do you weep (or feel sadness)?  Is it a longing for the ease and comforts of a life centered on self, or the heart cry that comes from the surrender of your self to the Almighty, loving, Father and Savior of us all?   As you examine the role of tears in your life, be willing to give up the struggle for control, and repent (turn away) of the ones shed for the wrong reasons.  As the Old Testament prophet Joel relayed for God, “…The Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” Joel 2:12–13a (NLT)

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