Grant Us Tears
Grant me tears, O Lord, to blot out my sins; may I not cease from them, O God, until I have been purified...
When I contemplate my sins, grant me tears always, for great are the claims of tears on cheeks…
Grant me contrition of heart so that I may not be in disgrace; O Lord, protect me and grant me tears.
- Anonymous, Old Irish, 9th century
O LORD God of hosts,
How long will You be angry
Against the prayer of Your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
And given them tears to drink in great measure.
You have made us a strife to our neighbors,
And our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!
- Psalm 80.4-7
Being happy in church is the “in” thing these days. Nobody wants a woeful worship. Let our music be upbeat, our singing robust, and our preaching lively and seasoned with laughs. Christianity must be fun and happiness, or it’s not the real deal.
Let us be done with the dour, finished with the fretful, and spared the sorrowing for sin. That’s so negative! Anyone suggesting that our Christian lives should be anything other than continuously cheery either needs counseling or should be shunted off to a monastery.
I remember a vignette from Mad Magazine, when I was a kid, which featured Robin Hood calling the roll of his “merry men,” only to come, quite unexpectedly, to Grumpy, the dwarf from Snow White. Whereupon he booted the usurper out of the ranks, saying, “No grumpies in my merry men!”
This is the way in many churches today: if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If not, well, we’ll have to work on that.
But sorrowing is an important human affection, especially when it is justified. And sorrow and tears are justified when we contemplate the depth and persistence of our sin, how we continue to seek our way and to press for our agenda and hold out for our wants and desires. The psalmist believed that God’s reviving grace was nearly at hand, since the people of Israel had been brought to tears for their sins. Our anonymous poet likewise seemed to have known that grace follows contrition, often marked by the presence of tears.
Have we forgotten that Jesus was the Man of Sorrows, who wept tears for the lost people of God? Who wept over the hardness of men’s hearts at the tomb of Lazarus? Who wept and sweat tears of blood as He submitted to the will of His Father? Do we think we have no need for tears in the Church today? Have we moved so far past sin that we do not need to weep and lament before God at the way we play at prayer, dabble at Bible study, flout His Law, prefer our way of doing church to His, set aside the plain teaching of Scripture to accommodate the latest in moral trends, and in a variety of other ways seek that our will, not His, might be done?
If we have no tears of repentance, it may be that we’re too busy chasing the idol of happiness and good feeling to stop and look at the great depth of our sins.
But if God does not feed us on tears, drown us in tears, bury us in tears of repentance, we’ll never get beyond where we are today. And where we are today – look around, people – isn’t all that great, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.
And we’ll struggle to realize, with any degree of consistency, the great unspeakable joy of knowing the Presence of the Lord with us always.
We need tears, friends, tears. When the tears of repentance begin to fall from our eyes, the Spirit of revival, renewal, and awakening will shortly appear.
1. Why is it important to sorrow and weep for our sins?
2. Why do tears of sorrow lead to the joy of our salvation?
Psalm 80.4-7 (St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
How long will You ignore all Your people’s fervent prayer?
Shall bitter tears fall ever? O Lord, renew Your care!
Our neighbors mock and scorn us, they laugh at out distress;
Renew, O Lord, and turn us, look down on us and bless!
O Man of Sorrows, grant me tears, that I may repent of my sins and…
Will you seek the Lord?
God supplies the needs of The Fellowship of Ailbe, as we look to Him day by day. It has pleased Him to enlist many of those who are served by our ministry to share in the financial support of this work. He may be pleased to do so, at least in part, through you. I ask you to seek Him in prayer concerning this matter. You can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Davies, p. 261.