In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Professor Snape lies dying and asks Harry to catch his tears so that the memories they contain could be taken and preserved for others to learn from them. Harry would then take Snape’s tears and “review” the memories in them so he could understand more fully the trials and agonies Snape endured and the sacrifices that were made on Harry’s behalf.
Tears that reveal the secret struggles… Tears that can tell the story that words can’t…
Is this not the wish of us all? Don’t we all wish that our tears of sorrow or pain or despair could help others understand what we can’t or won’t say? But tears can’t tell a story, can they?
Or can they?
Recently, in talking with a young man about his struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts, I asked him what the periods of depression have felt like, and he said it felt like a deep hole. But then he surprised me because as we talked he spoke of this deep hole as both a trap and a hiding place. I was aware of how depression can seem like a trap but had never considered it as a hiding place as well. When he said that, though, it made sense. For what do we do when we are in pain? We go to a familiar place. What do we do when we are scared or feel as if life is out of control? We go to a place that feels safe. In the moment, it doesn’t matter that depression itself can be painful, isolating, and unhealthy. It’s familiar and we always prefer the inner ‘demons’ we know to the external ‘demons’ we don’t.
As we talked, I brought our discussion back to the subject of tears and the deep hole of depression. He spoke of tears as serving a two-fold purpose: 1) they are a sign that he is in the deep hole; and 2) they can be a help in coming out of the deep hole. So, at the very least, this young man’s tears, while they weren’t captured in a bottle, certainly told a story. And it’s a story I imagine that isn’t unique to him.
As we continued to talk, we began to look at how the scriptures speak of our tears. One passage stood out to us, Psalm 56.8: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. [NLT]” This verse, breathed out by God Himself and written by a man being oppressed by his enemies, tells us quite plainly that our tears do matter to the Heavenly Father. They matter to Him, not the way dollars and cents matter to an accountant, but the way the tears of a child matter to a parent.
My struggling brother or sister, your tears matter to the One whose eyes never rest. You never truly cry in secret. You are seen. The deep hole is never too deep for Him to reach you. Keep weeping, and He’ll keep collecting. There will come a day when, “He will wipe away every tear from [your] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things [will have] have passed away.” (Revelation 21.4)
To my other brothers and sisters who don’t wrestle with depression or suicidal thoughts (and some of you who do), tears will tell us stories if we choose to listen. Though we may not have the ability to fully see or understand those who struggle, we do have the ability to be with, to ask, to listen, to tune in to the story that the tears are telling.