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A Song in Your Tears
Crying, from a technical perspective, is a non-verbal emotional response to physical pain, grief, or sometimes even joy, through the shedding of tears.
From a communication perspective. I think we could all agree that crying is a universal language that we all understand in general terms.
In this writing, I would like to take a more microscopic look at the underlying language of tears and present the possibility that they can have a much more specific message in them and even carry a melodious expression that can give a voice to our innermost needs and emotional experiences.
The Science of Tears
A biological look at tears might be useful for this study. Science has made valuable discoveries concerning the chemistry of tears one of them being that emotional tears and irritant tears, such as when cutting an onion, are different?
According to an article "The Miracle of Tears" at "Answers In Genesis", written by Jerry Bergman, it is noted that there is a 25% higher content of albumin protein in emotional tears.1
There are three types of these hormone based proteins that are contained in tears. The first one we will look at is called prolactin, and is mostly known for, and associated with breast milk production. What makes this so very interesting, as it concerns this topic, is that when a baby cries a mother's breasts will immediately fill in response. Something about the sound of the cry triggers that hormone to fulfill a need.
So it is with God, who reveals Himself in the Bible as El Shaddai. This particular name can mean the Powerfully breasted sufficient God. Does God have breasts? Probably not but the illustration via biology is powerful. When we cry to the Lord this signals something to God in terms of our need and His response, as well as provision for that need. The maternal love for a child and her desire to comfort and provide is the image we are given with this particular protein.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness
— Psalm 107:6-9
The second protein based hormone is Adrenocorticotropic hormone, otherwise known as ACTH. According to Wikipedia, this particular protein based hormone is a type of diagnostic and medication agent. What a wonder that our tears contain a diagnostic agent along with a prescription for cortisol which is natural steroid emitted to strengthen many of our bodies systems when under stress.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul
— Psalm 138:3
The third protein based hormone found in tears is Leu-enkephalin and is considered a natural pain killer.
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning...
...You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
— Psalm 30:5,11-12
Protein Sound Identification
We are going to break this down even a little further. Proteins are actually made up of amino acids which lead us to our next discovery about tears
"National Geographic" featured an article in 2005 that described how scientists assigned notes to amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, for the purpose of identification. By turning the amino acids into notes they were able to understand or comprehend the unique structure of each protein by the song that it made based on the sequence of each protein assigned note.2 What they were unable to interpret previously was revealed by the hearing of its musical translation.
Is it possible that this is not a coincidence, but a discovery, that when we cry out to God, it produces a song based on a particular sequence of amino acids expressed in the proteins of our tears, so that God can hear the unique structure of our pain which could not be seen, communicated, or expressed in any other way?
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our infirmities: For we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
— Romans 8:26
Anne Murchison quotes:
"Many Hebrew words for grieving, weeping and lamentation actually mean “to distill”, which means to “separate and change from one substance to another” 3
Could the protein in our tears be converted and distilled (lifted up to God) and changed (purified) to a language that God can feel and comprehend.
Many times when we are in distress we are painfully aware that no one on the planet could possibly understand our unique situation or discomfort, but we can always know that God does completely understand and care in the most helpful ways, quite possibly by the song in our tears.
My friends scorn me; My eyes pour out tears to God
— Job 16:20
Prayer is the falling of a tear...oftentimes a poor broken-hearted one bends his knee, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears
— Oswald Chambers
Tears Fight Bacteria
Another amazing biological feature of tears is that their chemical structure actually fights bacteria. This also illustrates a spiritual truth.
And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them
— Exodus 3:7-8
When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me
— Psalm 68:9
Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.
— Psalm 6:8
Tears contain what are called lysosomes, which are enzymes that break down organic matter and digest it much like a cleanup crew. This illustrates for us the cleansing and healing properties, both physically and emotionally, of tears.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destruction
— Psalm 107:19-20
The psalmist took great relief in knowing that his cries went into the very ears of God.
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears
— Psalm 18:6
The comfort that God hears us when we cry takes on extra special meaning when we consider that there is more than passive listening to God's response.
O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act!
— Daniel 9:19
This is revealed in the pictograph interpretation of the Hebrew word for "hear"
The Hebrew word for hearing is "shema". It is made up of three Hebrew letters "sheen", "mem", and "ayin".
The first letter "sheen" is a picture of teeth which represents the idea of chewing or consuming. We observed this with the digestion process of the lysosomes in the above section.
The second letter is a "mem" and images for us water. We might picture ocean waves, which can visually demonstrate emotions.
The final letter "ayin" is the picture of an eye.
If we put all the concepts together we can see God consuming the water, or emotions, as recorded in our tears, and emitted from our eye, and in that consumption He is digesting our pain, diagnosing the situation, making provision, and administering comfort and healing..
O Lord my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me.
— Psalm 30:2
The Hebrew word for tear is just a one letter difference than the word for hear. Instead of beginning with "sheen" as "hear" does "tear" begins with a "dalet" which is imaged by a door. It is indicative of a pathway through and is also connected to the idea of transformation. This reveals that tears are a way of transforming our emotions through the water passing through the door of our eyes.
With this interpretation to hear concerns much more than a mental assent to information. It lends to the idea of really taking another's heart into one's own. Could this be the same thought in the ever famous "Shema" recited by Jews daily that includes this concept of hearing connected with the heart and with love?
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength
— Deuteronomy 6:4-5
This could be applied as it concerns our relationship with others. There are times when our heart is hurting for the pain of another. God can also use our tears as a form of intercession on behalf of them as well.
Oh, that one might plead for a man with God...
— Job 16:21
"A teardrop on earth summons the King of heaven."
— Charles R. Swindoll
His attention to our distress is so great that not one molecule of our cry has gone unnoticed. Every tear has been accounted for
You make an account my wanderings; Put my tears into your bottle; Are they not in Your book?
— Psalm 56:8
Crying is not useless.
For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.
— Psalm 22:24
An Old Testament illustration
First Samuel Chapter one gives us an excellent illustration of the petition of tears. Hannah the wife of Elkanah was desperately wanting a child. She lived in a time and place that considered childlessness a curse and a shame. It was a woman's greatest pride and joy to produce heirs to her husband's name and continue the family generationally.
Hannah faced another humiliation from Elkanah's other wife, Peninnah, who produced children for him and ridiculed Hannah because of it.
therefore she wept and did not eat.
— I Samuel 1:7
Hannah in her humiliation and desperation, went to the tabernacle, which was in Shiloh at the time, to make a petition to God in her misery.
she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish
— I Samuel 1:10
What she prayed in her heart was recorded, but how she prayed is very interesting in light of this topic.
Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard
— I Samuel 1:13
The story ends beautifully with the answered prayer of a son whom she named Samuel. Samuel means "God has heard". God heard and interpreted Hannah's heart's cry through her tears and fulfilled her need and request.
"No prayer will ever prevail with God more surely than a liquid petition, which, being distilled from the heart, trickles from the eye, and waters the cheek."
"The tears of John, which were his liquid prayers, were so far as he was concerned, the sacred keys by which the sealed book was opened (Rev. 5:4)."
— Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
We live in a culture that is largely uncomfortable with tears and crying is sometimes viewed as awkward and unproductive. It appears from this study that there is a great benefit to crying and that God is not the least bit uncomfortable with our tears.
My personal take away from the gathering of the information for this topic is seeing tears as a sort of altar where we can lay it all before Him and know that He hears, cares, and can move on our behalf.
I would also like to end on this last hope and note, that sorrow will one day flee away when we dwell with God forever and all things are made new.
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
— Revelation 21:3-5
“In each tear is distilled something of eternity"
— Ken Gire "Windows of the Soul"
Credits and Sources
© 2010 Tamarajo