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A Time to Weep

I was interested to note recent reports that scientists have managed to grow human tear ducts in the lab- and not only that, but have induced them to cry! (I’m sure it’s the first time that science has caused tears- nor will it be the last)

These experiments are part of the developing scientific area of interest known as “organoids”, which are miniature human organs have been cultivated in the lab, which function like the real thing. Previously, researchers have been successful in growing mini versions of kidneys, hearts and intestine- and even, somewhat controversially, miniature brains. The purpose of these projects is to develop life- like 3D models of organs, which can then be used in experimental systems- to test new drugs, for example.

It got me thinking about how important tears are in our lives. Quite apart from their biological function- in keeping our eyes moist, a bit like windscreen washers in a car- tears are an important part of our expressing emotions. While we sometimes weep tears of laughter, joy or relief, for the most part, tears are usually associated with negative emotions- tears of regret, contrition or sadness. Over these past weeks in particular, as we have reflected on the challenges and loss that many of us have faced due to pandemic, many tears have been shed in a range of situations- mourning loss not only of loved ones no longer with us, but of opportunities lost, and of fear for the future.

As weeping is so much part of what it is to be human, it’s not surprising to find that it is a recurrent theme in scripture. For example, in Psalm 126, the psalmist says that

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will
return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them” (Ps 126 v5, 6)

One of the most profound verses in the Bible is also the shortest- what depth of meaning is contained in the two words “Jesus wept” (John 11 v 35)- that the Lord of all glory should weep at the grave of a friend. The idea of weeping is also prominent in the Easter story- from the tears of contrition when Peter demies his Lord (Luke 22 v 62),to the tears of Mary outside the tomb (John 20), before she encountered the risen Christ (and perhaps then wept tears of joy?)

But ultimately we are drawn to the amazing image recorded in Johns vision in Revelation- where we are told:

“God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21 v3, 4)

We are told that, because of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, Gods dwelling place is now among his people- and God himself will wipe away the tears from our eyes. What a truly amazing picture this is!

Yes, part of being human is that we will face challenges- even tears at times. Yes, science is amazing in what it is able to achieve- even to the point of inducing tears in the lab. But, in the final analysis, its God who is the one who will wipe away all tears, andensure that there is no further need for weeping, mourning or crying, because
sin has finally been conquered.

by Dr Murdo Macdonald
 

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