Vale of Tears

Burden-bearing in the Spirit



Burden-bearing in the Spirit

The world scoffs at a man weeping for his neighbour’s sins as if for his own, or even more than for his own, for it seems contrary to nature. But the love which brings this about is not of this world.
Angela of Foligno

Many of the Biblical writers used the Hebrew language to play on words – and I was tempted to spell the title of this book “Veil” of Tears. We are familiar with the concept of walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” – but is grief not like a veil that separates us from so much that we love and prize?

Thus far we have considered God’s compassion for those who are experiencing personal loss. As we turn to ponder the corporate griefs that engulf societies and even nations, I have often been tempted to wonder, if I may put this reverently, how God avoids having a nervous breakdown.

After all, while the rest of us dip our hands into the woes of the world and then relax in a shower and take the evening off, God never removes His gaze from the sufferings His children are called to endure.

What is needed, therefore, is a spiritual response to intensely distressing situations. Jesus does not despair over them, for that would be to deny the Hope that flows within the Godhead, but He most certainly does mourn over them – and He is eager to find others who will do so too.

Just as certain women dedicate themselves to sharing more of God’s heart by “taking the veil,” so the Lord invites us to share the grief that is in His heart. As He brings us face-to-face with situations that are dishonouring Him, we will often find ourselves expressing our feelings in sighs “too deep for words”.5

It is at this point that we find ourselves glimpsing a surprising fact: this “veil” of tears actually becomes a means by which we come to share more of the Father’s heart. This can be as true for the social injustices under whose weight the world groans, as for the impositions that both false religion and political correctness are increasingly placing on God’s people – to say nothing of the flood of immorality that saturates our land.

Perhaps the sharpest pain of all comes from seeing just how far so many parts of the Church, as well as our society, have strayed from the Lord’s heart. I have taken to calling this pain “Lot’s Syndrome.”

God rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.
2 Peter 2:7-8

Many of us are prepared to share our joys with many people, but we reserve our deepest griefs for a few tried and trusted friends. Sharing God’s heart in this way sets us free from the self-absorption of grief, and leads to such heartfelt intercession that it draws us onto His wavelength.

If we get things out of perspective at this point, however, we can end up confusing our own prejudices and emotions for genuine spiritual discernment, in which case we will soon feel weary and weighed down – and risk becoming a bore to others!

To avoid taking on burdens the Lord is not asking us to assume and overloading ourselves, it is good from time to time to check and reposition our burdens. Imagine a log making its way downstream. Is it in the middle of the current, or is it becoming snared and snagged on its journey?

Reflect and Pray

Fine-tune our spirits, Lord,
to pick up the burdens
You are drawing our attention to.

Place the filter of Your Cross
between our own desires and longings
and the pain we come across,
so that burdens flow freely through us
to the mercy of the Cross
without getting stuck in the realm of our soul.
In the name of the One who ever lives
to make intercession for us, Amen.