I think I’ve observed this before . . . maybe even have written about it before . . . but this morning, as I’m reading Revelation 21 it’s tears that catch my eye.
There are so many pictures painted in this portion of Scripture as the new heaven and new earth are revealed to John. A holy city, representing the people of God, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2) is the focus of the vision. The Bride’s radiance, like that of “a most rare jewel” is sourced in the glory of God (21:11). No need for a sun or a moon in the new creation “for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (21:23). But amidst the beauty of the Bride, under the light of the glory of God there is a wonderful promise. No more tears.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. That’s the second time John has been impressed with that prophetic information (see Rev. 7:17). And this morning I’m thinking about the process of tear removal.
To be sure, the source of tears will be removed. Death, and the mourning, crying, and pain that come because of death, “shall be no more.”
But what of the tears shed before that day? How will they be removed?
By command? “Be gone,” and the tears, with their associated grief, simply disappear? By courier? God commands His angels, those “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14), to go forth with heaven-sized boxes of Kleenex to dry up the tears of their charges?
Or might the tears evaporate as eyes behold the glory of God and the light of the Lamb? Might there be something about what we see then that will act, as it were, like a soft cloth that absorbs and removes all that is associated with the sadness of “the former things?”
Or will God do it Himself? Might He actually, Himself, wipe away the tears? Will He who longs to dwell with His people somehow touch each eye? Will His people feel the hand of God as it brushes away the sorrow and the crying?
I don’t know. But I do know, because God’s promises are true, and because on that day He will somehow wipe away every tear from our eyes, that God cares about our tears.
And while there will be full and perfect tear removal in that future day, He also ministers to our tears today. Through the encouragement of the Scriptures (Rom. 15:4). Through the peace that passes understanding available through prayer (Php. 4:6-7). Through the comfort of the Spirit who helps us in our weakness (Rom. 8:26). And through the abiding presence of Christ who, because He Himself has shed tears (John 11:35, Heb. 5:7), is able to empathize and encourage those who also shed tears.
Tears. Because of them we can know, in some manner, the hand of God upon us as He deals with them. He will deal them on that day. The day John saw, when the Bride is presented to her Bridegroom in all her eternal glory, and our tears are wiped away forever. And God ministers to our tears today. The day for which His grace is sufficient as He who knows our tears, draws alongside that we might keep on keepin’ on through the tears.
To Him be all glory . . .