The pillow is wet. Wet, because of your tears. The handkerchief is damp. Damp, because you cried. Has that ever been your experience? When was the last time your heart melted and flowed out through your eyes as water? When was the last time your tear glands got into action because of a tear in your heart?
With millions watching him on Television, Indian Cricket Legend, Kapil Dev, wept like a small child. This happened when the straight-talking Karan Thapar interviewed him for a BBC show titled, “Hardtalk India” in May 2000. Weeping inconsolably in response to the match-fixing allegations thrown against him. These words flowed out his mouth, even as the tears flowed down his cheeks: “I will commit suicide rather than take a bribe. Who wants money? Take all my money. I come from a family where pride is more important than anything else.” (quoted from hinduonnet.com, 7 May 2000).
Can I ask you a personal question? When was the last time you cried? And why did you cry?
One of the first times I cried as an adult was when I got admission to the famous Madras Christian College for a course B. Sc. Course in 1992. My dad told me then that I could not join even though I got admission. He wanted me to wait for the results of the admission process I had started in Allahabad Agricultural Institute for the B. Tech. Agricultural Engineering course. And I could not take it. So, I cried. Those were kiddish tears. Those were selfish tears.
But in March 1993 I was given admission to this college now called SHIATS. I travelled 2000 kilometers away from home in Vellore (Tamil Nadu) to study in Allahabad. And in Allahabad I cried again. I was away from home in a hostel for the first time. I missed my parents and the world I was so familiar with in Vellore and so I cried. Those were kiddish tears again. Those were selfish tears again.
The tears started flowing down my cheek, afresh, one day in my college campus when I was praying in the mango groves. As I prayed for the unsaved, addicted-to-sinful-habits fellow students, the tears started pouring down! The tears were hot! They took a good while to stop! I will never forget that day in my life. For the first time I was weeping for the lost. My groaning in prayer on this occasion revealed my growth in spiritual life. My tears on this occasion were indicative of a significant spiritual growth.
The call for us to weep for the lost comes to us from the Bible via example after example.
THE PROPHET’S EXAMPLE
It does so through Prophet Jeremiah’s example. This is what the Prophet whom God used to write the longest Bible book in terms of number of words, wrote: “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jer. 9:1). J. Gordon McConville, an Old Testament Scholar writes, “In Jeremiah 8:22-9:3 there is a confusion between the weeping of the prophet Jeremiah and that of God”. In other words, when we study the book of Jeremiah in the original language it was written, Hebrew, we are not sure who is crying – God or Jeremiah! I would like to think that that they cried together – God and Jeremiah!
Why did Jeremiah cry? He cried because he knew that because of the stubbornness of the people of the Southern Kingdom of Israel the judgment of God was sure to come! He knew they were going to be exiled to Babylon. Some were going to be slain. Some were going to be captured. So, he wept. He kept weeping and praying for his sinful people till God told him to stop four separate times (Jer. 7:16; 11:14; 14:11; 15:1). God had decided to send his stiff-necked people into exile and so he asked his prophet to stop praying for them as they had crossed the line of no-return when it came to rebellion against the living God. So, prophet Jeremiah had to stop praying for his people.
In the New Testament times, the chance for the salvation of the perishing people of our time remains till their death (Heb. 9:27) or the coming of our Lord (Heb. 9:28). So we cannot stop praying for the perishing! That’s why Apostle Paul penned these Jeremiah-like words in the book of Romans: “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people” (Rom. 9:1-3). Paul shed tears for the perishing!
When was the last time you wept for the lost? When was the last time you wept during a time of intercession?
Apostle John, the senior-most leader of the church, also had hot tears in his eyes when he thought about end-time spiritual dangers which were about to come upon the people he greatly loved and sincerely shepherded. This is what he wrote: “Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it…” (Rev. 5:4).
When he heard about the deplorable condition about the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah who had a cushy job in a safe foreign location started to weep. This is what the Bible records: “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:4). When was the last time a news report with regard to the brutal persecution unleashed on the soldiers of the Cross made you weep and slump onto your knees?
Joseph was so moved by love for his brother Benjamin that he could not hold back the tears when they met after a long time (Gen. 43:30). Do we have tears for our brothers and sisters in Christ world-over who are systematically terrorized and relentlessly tortured because of their faith in Christ?
Let us weep for the perishing! Let us standing in the gap for the persecuted!
Trivial things bring a torrent of tears in our eyes. A delay in healing brings tears into our eyes. A refusal of a visa makes us cry like children. But far more important things happening around us does not even bring a trickle down our cheeks! I am referring to far more important things like fate of perishing souls and the state of our persecuted brothers and sisters – have we ever wept for them, wept over them?
Do you hear ‘Weeping Prophet’ Jeremiah final challenge to us: “Arise, cry aloud in the night at the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water Before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him For the life of your little ones Who are faint because of hunger At the head of every street” (Lamentations 2:19). What will fill our eyes during the watches of the night? Will waters (tears) fill it or will WhatsApp fill it? During the watches of the night, let there be waters in our eyes for the lost and persecuted, instead of WhatsApp and more WhatsApp!
(This article was published in the Aim Magazine published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India – November 2019 issue).