August 4, 2021
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One of the most beautiful and powerful images in Scripture is found in Psalm 56:8. It’s a precious promise that begs to be circled: “You have collected all my tears in your bottle.”
There are many different kinds of tears.
There are the tears shed by the mother of a little boy in the ICU who is far too young to fight leukemia, but he fights anyway. There are the tears shed by the father of the bride as he walks his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. There are tears that stain divorce papers, and tears mixed with sweat that stream down the faces of grown men who have just won a national championship.
Then there are the tears shed in prayer.
Each and every teardrop is precious to God. They are eternal keepsakes. The day will come when He wipes away every tear in heaven. Until then, God will move heaven and earth to honor every tear that has been shed. Not a single tear is lost on God.
He remembers each one. He honors each one. He collects each one.
In much the same way that God bottles our accumulated tears, God also collects our prayers. Each one is precious to Him. Each one is sealed by God. And you never know when He’s going to uncork an answer.
Sometimes I struggle with fear. My greatest fear is that my kids might someday walk away from the faith, but I have learned to rebuke that fear because fear is not of God. Then I remind myself that I have circled my children with the blessing from Luke 2:52 thousands of times: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Those prayers are bottled by God, and the Holy Spirit will unseal them in the lives of my children long after I’m gone.
Sometimes I struggle with doubt. I’m afraid that I will someday mishandle the blessings of God. Then I remember that I have circled Psalm 84:11: “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” All I have to do is stay humble and stay hungry.
Sometimes I struggle with faith. I’m afraid that the last miracle might be the last miracle. Then I remind myself that I have circled Deuteronomy 33:16: “The favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush” is upon me. I have no idea what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.
Your life is in His hands, and your prayers are in His bottle. And like a message in a bottle, your prayers are carried by the current of His sovereign will. When and where they will land no one knows. But those bottled prayers will be unsealed in God’s time and in God’s way.
He will answer somewhere, sometime, somehow. All you have to do is keep circling.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.