Printer Friendly Topic: Sorrow
Author: Illustration Exchange
Scripture: Psalm 56:8; Revelation 21:4
They’re called tear bottles, tear catchers, tear vials, unguentaria, and lachrymatories. In them, tears are collected as a token of grief and mourning. Legends of tear catchers go back millennia to the days of Rome when, purportedly, mourners would bury their tear bottles with the dead as symbols of respect. It’s also reported that professional mourners (called wailers) would be paid to collect their tears for the dead–the loader the wails and the fuller the tear bottles, the better the pay.
The use of tear bottles enjoyed a resurgence during the Victorian period of the 19th century. Mourners would place their tears in a bottle with porous stoppers. The complete evaporation of the tears would mark the end of the mourning period.
During the Civil War, women would catch their tears in a bottle and kept them to show their husbands how much they were missed while away on the field of battle.
Today, tear bottles are enjoying yet another resurgence in popularity. You can buy them online and in trendy gift stores to give as gifts and tokens, not just of mourning, but for shared tears empathy over present struggles, and even for shared tears of joy.
References to tear bottles actually predate even Roman culture. King David, in his sorrow, cried out to God saying, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” (Psalm 56:8, KJV). The New Living Testament says it this way: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
What beautiful imagery. God sees each tear we cry and tracks each one. No sorrow goes unnoticed. No pain goes unmourned by our loving and compassionate Father. And one day, just as with the lachrymatories of the Victorian era, all our tears will evaporate, wiped away by the hand of a loving Savior.
“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, NLT).
The time of mourning will be over!
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