AN AMAZING FACT: There are three different types of tears. Basal tears keep the cornea wet and nourished. Reflex tears wash out foreign particles or irritable substances (onion vapors). Crying tears are due to strong emotional stress, anger, suffering, mourning, or physical pain. Each type has a different chemical make-up and can relay messages to others.
Did you ever get a piece of sawdust in your eye? You blinked and blinked as tears spontaneously came and helped wash out the irritant. Tears not only lubricate your eyes so you can see more clearly, they help keep the surface of your cornea clean every time you blink. During the fight-or-flight response of an intense situation, you produce more tears. Tears come to people under deep emotional distress such as anger or grief.
The chemical make-up of tears differs. Emotional tears actually contain more of the protein-based hormones. Some of these contain natural painkillers. But not all emotional tears are genuine. We refer to an insincere display of grief or dishonest remorse as “crocodile tears.” An ancient Greek anecdote stated that crocodiles would pretend to weep while luring their prey. Societies generally accept the public display of tears in women and children, but only a few cultures find it socially acceptable for men to cry in public.
David writes Psalm 42 out of deep distress. He yearns for God’s presence. He feels alone and forgotten by God. Enemies surround him. David longs to be in the temple where he can worship God. Out of this pain he cries, “My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, ‘Where is your God’?” (Psalm 42:3).
David did not withhold his tears. His genuine display of grief spilled out as he wept in prayer. We too may come before the Lord with our emotions and pain. We can also know that God sees our hurt and feels our sorrow. Like David, we can find hope in God as we bow in anguish and shed tears.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalms 42:11