Thoroughly Equipped: Tears in His Bottle

Today’s reading is Genesis 44:1-45:28, Matthew 14:13-36, Psalm 18:37-50, Proverbs 4:11-13.

As I read through the text today, I asked the Lord to reveal what He wanted me to see; to whisper a new truth or remind me of a truth I already embraced.  And immediately what came to mind was “Joseph’s tears”.  I began to think of the whole story and thought, “Yes, Joseph did seem to be an emotional guy.”  And rightly so.  He was betrayed by his family, sold into slavery, lied about and falsely accused, put into prison, and forgotten by an ungrateful cup bearer.  But as I began to look back at what I had already read, and then look forward to what the assigned reading will be in the next couple of days, I realized that his tears were not recorded in scripture during those hard times.  We don’t see that he wept during those times, though I am sure he did.  But what I felt drawn to study were the times it was recorded in scripture that he wept.  And I found some interesting things.  First of all, I found that there were 7 times that scripture records that Joseph wept.  Remember that holy number seven?  It means completion and perfection.  It was not recorded that Joseph wept until he had the upper hand, until he had won the battle.  It was not recorded that Joseph wept in any circumstance except in relation to his family–in relation to the ones who would represent the family of God.  And I believe that it is true that family evokes the deepest tears—both tears of pain and tears of joy.

Joseph wept 7 times.  And those 7 accounts of tears wrap up the story completely and perfectly.  Those tears were healing and redemptive.  Let’s take a look:

  1. Genesis 42: 24– Now he turned away from them and began to weep. When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again. Then he chose Simeon from among them and had him tied up right before their eyes.

When Joseph overheard his brothers talking about what they did to him he wept.  Did this remind him of the deep wounds of betrayal and hardship that still haunted him? It appears these tears were in anger because he tied up Simeon right after and in front of the others.  Why Simeon?  Maybe he was the main instigator of the betrayal.  We see later that his blessing from his father was more of a curse because of his wild and violent ways.  Regardless, Joseph shed angry, though understandable, tears in this first account.

  1. Genesis 43:29-30  Then Joseph looked at his brother Benjamin, the son of his own mother. “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” Joseph asked. “May God be gracious to you, my son.”  Then Joseph hurried from the room because he was overcome with emotion for his brother. He went into his private room, where he broke down and wept.

When he saw his full brother, Benjamin, he was overcome with emotion, with love.  He wept at the realization that he was finally seeing his own blood brother.  He was probably weeping for all the lost years, as well.  Benjamin had been very young when he had left; now he was almost grown.  And Joseph had been robbed of those years.

  1. Genesis 45:1-2 Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.

When Joseph told his brothers who he was, he was overcome with emotion.  These were the tears of the truth laid bare–of revealing who he really was to those whom he had known his whole life.  And yet, they didn’t really know him now did they?

  1. Genesis 45:14 14 Weeping with joy, he embraced Benjamin, and Benjamin did the same.

Joseph wept when he embraced Benjamin as a brother who was fully known, weeping in joy.  And then he wept over each of his brothers.  These were tears of reunion and reconciliation. It must have been a beautiful reunion, because after that, they began talking freely with him.

  1. Genesis 46:29  Joseph prepared his chariot and traveled to Goshen to meet his father, Jacob. When Joseph arrived, he embraced his father and wept, holding him for a long time.

Joseph wept when he was reunited with his father.  These were tears of joy in the reunion, and tears of grief in the years lost.  But mostly joy!

  1. Genesis 50:1-2 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph told the physicians who served him to embalm his father’s body; so Jacob[a] was embalmed.                                                                                                      When his father died, he threw himself on him and wept in grief.  It was the raw, anguished cry of grief.  I have experienced that before, as have most people.  It is raw and loud and my reserved personality would only want the most intimate of family and friends to witness it.  But it is vital in walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  When Mont and I were missionaries in Ecuador we witnessed the grief ceremonies of the Indian tribal people who lived near the jungle hospital.  They wailed and chanted in unison for hours and hours.  It was loud and long and uncomfortable for them and for those of us who witnessed it.  But they may be onto something healthy.  They didn’t stuff it or ignore it or think that being stoic equaled being strong or brave.  They felt it.  They mourned it, because it was valuable enough to mourn.
  2. Genesis 50:16-20 So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us  to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said.  But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.

Joseph wept when his brothers didn’t trust him; they lied and said their father instructed him to pardon them.  Were his tears because they didn’t trust him or was he overcome with emotion because of the beauty of forgiveness?  He then replies with his famous reply:  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all of good.  He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”  He not only saved his family, he saved all the Egyptians who came to him for food.  When we see the full circle of redemption, it can bring tears of joy.

I think that the seven accounts of Joseph’s tears tell us something important.  God created us to shed tears.  Tears can be cleansing and healing.  They can express deep pain and inexpressible joy.  Tears are often apart of the complete and perfect work of God in our lives.  What does God have to say about our tears?

  1. He collects them for us and records us in His book. He sees each tear and each one is important to Him.

You keep track of all my sorrows.[a]

    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

    You have recorded each one in your book.

                                                Psalm 58:8

  1. There is an appropriate time to cry; to let it out, to mourn and grieve. But there is also a time to laugh and rejoice and keep living after the pain, or maybe even in the midst of the pain.

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

                                                    Ecclesiastes 3:4

  1. Tears won’t last forever. Tears of regret or grief or pain will not last forever.  Joy will return and the tears will cease.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning

                                                            Psalm 30:5

  1. There will be a day when our sweet Heavenly Father will personally wipe away every tear.  And there will be a day when there will be no more reason to cry—except the joyful tears.  I think there will be a lot of those precious tears.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

                                                                Revelation 21:4

  1. God wants us to pour out our tears to Him, knowing He can be trusted with every one.

My friends scorn me,

    but I pour out my tears to God.

                                                                     Job 16:20

  1. We can trust that He will use our tears to water good seed which will turn into a good harvest of fruit for His Kingdom.

Those who plant in tears

    will harvest with shouts of joy.

They weep as they go to plant their seed,

    but they sing as they return with the harvest.

                                                                             Psalm 126:5-6

  1. Our tears can be an act of worship. As we weep with gratitude or even regret over our sins, we are worshipping Him, the One who sees our tears and values each one.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

                                                                                  Luke 7:44-47

I hope you will find hope and healing in your tears.  He sees you and will redeem your tears.

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