As some will know by now, my mother has just been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at the age of 83 years: it is condition which attacks the electrical junction of the nerves that fire the muscles - these so-called 'motor-end-plates' start to die back from the muscle, with random irregular conduction of nerve impulses across the junction gap (as far as I remember - more erudite medics please correct!)
We are all quite thankful that the condition is not too widespread at this point - my mother's difficulty is presently confined to swallowing with some trouble with her speech. As a highly articulate former nurse tutor, and general matriarchal director-in-charge of family affairs, this has come as a shock to her at this late stage in her life.
Naturally, of course there have been floods of tears - or perhaps more constant dripping rivulets as we have conversed, read scripture, prayed and hugged. Others of course have shared the love and sobs - but the pair of us at times have been tripping over tears. We've looked into each other's faces and seen our moistening cheeks.
Our response is almost instinctive to this strange state of affairs: we both, by grace, reach out a warm, kind, hand (at least she does) and attempt to wipe each other's cheek and stem the flow of tears. I'm sure there are many who have cared for dearest friends and family, who as they read this post will know exactly what I mean.
This fallen world is a broken valley of tears. When I reflect on the hardship that other believers are going through right now, I sense that our own small present circumstance is mild compared to some. I see all around me families creaking under strain, and longstanding friends bereft at what to do with kids. Groans, grief, sickness, shame, trial and test - that stretch hearts to breaking point - make many if not most (except the stoic believer) weep.
As I reflect on the hand of her ailing, maternal, affection - more concerned, I think, for my tears than her own - it reminded me today of the infinitely kinder, warmer, hand of our Heavenly Father, and of the intention of Christ to dehydrate all the sobbing of his flock. The reference is found in the 7th chapter of revelation, and again, a second time, in chapter 21. Twice we are told that God will wipe away all tears.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" - Revelation 7:17.
He wept loudly in the garden, and was nailed to the Tree, to purchase grace and glory - the blood-bought grace and glory which will finally do away with grief: our Father in Heaven predestined Christ would come to earth so that there will be no more pain for all His tested, tear-filled, chosen saints.
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 21:4
I guess, therefore, that we are cast back on the LORD, for help in troubled times. The wiping-dry of tears is the Gospel work of God. It is the presence of sin in the world that causes people to weep. Sin's consequences and effect are what makes grown-ups lacrimate. The day is coming soon when time will be no more - when all things are made new, at the return of Christ, His hand will reach out, and all weeping will be gone.
I'm not really sure if that means in heaven we won't have tear glands, ducts or films to lubricate our sight - but if believers do weep in heaven, it will only be with joy. Our hearts will be comforted by the kind, warm palm of Christ - His matchless infinite grace, procured at the price of His death, will be sufficient for all the Church to bid all mourning gone.
Of course we must continue to walk this tear-filled vale - there may be trials ahead for you and me which will soak our bed with sorrow. Sickness, suffering, and schism may arrive to bring us grief. What we must do is to put our hope in Christ, read of the kind, warm, hand, and begin to taste the future reality of this truth, even if it is just a sweet foretaste.
It is with good reason Paul urges believers to set their hearts on things above - it is the One who sits enthroned, as God's pierced, slain, Lamb, who has triumphed for the church and can supply tear-drying grace. If you are suffering or grieving as you read this blog dear friends - look up, child of God, to bring heaven down to earth, by the excellent, sacrificial, nail-pierced, loving hand of Christ.