The other night I snuggled up with my son to read books before bed. He picked one of his favorites, a Bible story book with cool illustrations of Noah’s Ark and Jonah and the whale. He doesn’t quite have the attention span for the whole story, so I usually just flip the pages and say a few words about each one. We came to the resurrection story and I read the verse at the bottom of the page.
It was Isaiah 25:8: ”And the LORD God will wipe away tears from all faces.”
And like someone turned on a faucet, tears started streaming down my face.
Now, I am a woman. And a woman prone to tears at that. I cry for many different reasons, in many different ways, but I’m not sure crying has ever caught me so off guard like it did that night.
Why would a statement about God wiping tears from our eyes make me cry?
There is something about doing familiar things in an unfamiliar place that reminds you just how far away from home you really are.
We went and got our Christmas tree on Saturday. As we were driving to the nondescript parking lot, I realized that the leaves were still on the trees! Yellow, orange, maroon, gold–I have never picked out a Christmas tree with the fall colors in the background.
We set our tree up in the living room, but I didn’t even feel like decorating it. I didn’t want to listen to carols or deck the halls. It didn’t feel like Christmas was coming at all.
I thought the same about Thanksgiving. The palm trees were swaying outside the window as we sat down to our Thanksgiving meal. Not the usual backdrop for our turkey feast. I am used to seeing barren twisted tree branches curling up into clear blue skies through the window as we eat our green bean casserole.
Still, we had a nice meal. We lit a fire. We watched football. We had company. We even ate Indian Pudding, which we were told was a traditional New England desert for Thanksgiving. But I missed my family, and those barren tree limbs.
All these feelings I welled up in my heart, trying to deny their existence. Then I read a verse about Jesus wiping away our tears and it all came out. I was sad. I was homesick. But it was okay. He knew I was feeling down and one day He’s going to wipe all those tears away. What a beautiful thing for the LORD to say to His children. I am so glad the Bible includes verses like that one.
When things are going well in life, I say things like, “God is so good.” I know it’s true. I believe it. God is always good, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, God remains the same: good.
But I’ve been realizing lately, that the presence of so many good things in my life is not a result of God’s goodness. It is a result of God’s graciousness.
To say that I have these things because God is good in some way implies that He gives these things to me because I am also good. And so good people do good to other good people. But there is no way that I deserve all the wonderful the things I have been given. I am not that good.
I have these things because God is a gracious God, not because He is good.
There are so many wonderful attributes of God, but grace just may be my favorite. Undeserved merit. Kindness. Forgiveness. Grace.
It is enough to bring a grown man (and of course, a woman) to tears. It truly is amazing grace.
So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving season? God’s overflowing, ever present, abundant, and humbling grace. Without which I would be lost and forever homesick, with no one to wipe away my tears.