He Knows My Tears

Posted: April 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
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I have never considered myself a crier. In fact, in early adulthood, I was proud of the fact that I seldom cried. After having children, I would occasionally get teary eyed at stories of families with kids growing up or at the thought of losing a child.

That has all changed….drastically. My tear ducts have been flowing non-stop for the past 16 months. And prior to Patrick’s death, for the 12 months that I took care of him and watched him wither away, I was already crying buckets any chance I had to hide in a corner and let them flow. Seriously….it’s a lot of tears.

The Bible actually talks about tears. After all, God created them. I find comfort in Psalm 56:8, in the promise that God knows how much I’ve cried and has my tears in a bucket. That’s up there as amazing as knowing the number of hairs on my head! (Matthew 10:30)

David says in Psalm 6:6 that he is “weary with moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears and I drench my couch with my weeping.” I can relate completely.  Tears are supposed to be cleansing.  Some people can hold them in.  Not me.  Not anymore.  They are always just below the surface and spring forth at random times.

But the verse that has surprised me the most is Psalm126:5 “Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy.” In all my years of studying the Word, hearing messages and reading through the Bible, I never remembered hearing this one. So when my pastor and his wife first brought it to my attention several weeks ago as I sat weeping in their living room, I was riveted. I went home and looked it up and read it in every version and poured through commentaries. This gem of a verse released me from my self-imposed feelings of failure that I should be “doing better” than I am. Gone was the guilt that “I must be doing something wrong” because I am still struggling so much. It is comforting to know that each step I take, even with the tears flowing, is the right thing to do. It’s ok to cry; It’s just not ok to quit. I don’t know when the “reaping with joy” part will come.   That’s not even the motivation for me right now. I just want to be faithful and I only seek to honor the Lord, even in my pain…No matter how long this valley is. I needed to hear that it’s ok to be sad while I’m obeying.

Losing a spouse is unexplainable unless/until you experience it. My earthly best friend is gone and he will never be replaced. And the ache of loneliness is constant. There is no one person to share every detail of life with. The good, the bad, the silly, the pointless, the ups, the downs, the in-betweens. Yes, friends help, but they aren’t the one you are used to going to sleep with every night and waking up next to every morning. There is no one companion who shares your struggles, knows your dreams, encourages you and stabilizes you. No other set of ears and eyes to help you in your perspective. No one person to help you think through things from the minute to the major. And after almost 25 years of having that one person, the adjustment is rough.

I learned early on in my grief that constant isolation is not a good choice, although it’s the natural default when in pain. But it only leads to despair. So I have pressed on….working full-time, involved in an adult small group, serving as a youth leader, attending counseling class on Wednesday nights and going through training sessions to start Grief Share at our church this fall. Friday nights are the worst for me if I don’t have something planned, so I force myself to do something with someone else. All of these things are good and they are helpful….but I still know I am without my life’s partner. It’s still lonely; I still return each night to the deafening silence of my large empty house.

Slowly, I think I am learning to accept the silence. The alone feeling is more normal now. I don’t like it, but it has caused me to be so aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life. More than ever before, I whisper prayers to my Heavenly Father. Prayers of confession, for in my grief, I am still a sinner; prayers of desperation for his grace to endure; prayers focusing on his promises and truth; prayers of intercession for others also struggling. His Word soothes my pain. The examples of faithful believers through the ages encourage my heart. Knowing that He will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4) and there will be no more weeping, gives me true hope.

Easter weekend was a real blessing, as it was the first time since Christmas that the kids and I were together. Family from out of town joined us for a few days and church families for dinner on Sunday all made for a special weekend. Both kids are doing well. Paige is finishing her second year at Cornerstone University and will be taking an overseas class to Kosovo for a few weeks in May. Then she will finish her summer doing an internship with Life Builders in Detroit. Parker had an amazing freshmen year at Cedarville University and has chosen to be a camp counselor at Lake Ann Camp in northern Michigan this summer. They are experiencing life the way Patrick and I dreamed for both of them. I am truly grateful.

And as I worshipped with my church family during the Good Friday and Easter morning service, I felt freer than I had in a long time. Freer to cry openly thinking of the suffering Christ endured on my behalf. Freer because I know I have experienced a little of the “fellowship of his sufferings” that Paul talks about in Philippians 3:10. Freer to worship openly because Christ is all that matters. Freer because my suffering really is bringing me closer in every way to my Lord and Savior. The most freedom comes from knowing that it’s because of Christ’s resurrection that I have hope and a reason to live.

Today is 16 months since Patrick entered Heaven. He is living it up with Jesus and many others who have gone on before. I know He is fully engaged enjoying each moment just as he always was here. I can picture him talking, laughing and eating….all the things that he couldn’t do as the awful disease took over and destroyed his body. And since it’s spring, I can imagine that he’s playing golf on some beautiful course, inviting everyone he knows to join him for a “quick 9 holes.”

This morning I am running for the second time, a half marathon. The first one was last October when Paige, Heather and I ran in Detroit in memory of Patrick. During that one I ran with thoughts of how Patrick and I had planned to train and run one together, before his diagnosis of ALS changed everything.

For this one I have trained alone. Me and God, along with my phone playing messages from various preachers and lots of Christian music. (Yes, I run listening to sermons. They are often times easier on my emotions than music.) Many miles clocked on the treadmill and outdoors. Lots of time to think; Lots of time to meditate on truth.

Today I will still run with thoughts of Patrick in my heart, as he is a part of me that will never go away.

However, I am also choosing to run thinking of my Savior. I will be thinking of….

how He suffered for me…

how He loves me…

how He never leaves me…

how He is my ultimate companion…

how amazingly He provides for me…

how He continually protects me…

And how He has a plan for me….

He knows my tears,

And He cares.


Philippians 3:14

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

For more on tears and Psalm 126:5, read this powerful devotional by John Piper


  1. lorie and albert smith says:

    thank u

  2. linda says:

    “It’s ok to cry, it’s just not ok to quit.” Amen, sister.

  3. Kathy Mrak says:

    You are in my prayers and I pray you do well today! God Bless!

  4. Karen Davis says:

    My heart goes out to you each time I read your up-dates. I love how you are so open with the struggles that you face each day, along with how God is taking care of you. When I try to put myself in your shoes, I honestly don’t think I would survive. But know I would have to. You show courage, hope, and acceptance. Thanks for sharing with all of us. Love, Karen

  5. Bea Lovins says:

    its is okay to cry, but to praise the Lord in all your tears is amazing.

  6. Rachael says:

    The song “Oceans” by united has really ministered to my hear this week. Thank you for this post😊 Praying for you.

  7. Brad evans says:

    Thank you for sharing. I can relate to most of what you share. Debbie Jackson introduced me to you page a few months back. My wife passed away last Memorial Day 2013. My son will be a camper this summer at lake Anne with NWCC. keep the faith. You’re in my prayers.

  8. Richard Arnold says:

    Thought I would send one on to you.  Dena’s made great progress I think.  I hope you take time to read it.  She’s  so good at putting her feelings into words.  Love, Mom

  9. Judy Stafne says:

    I took the Grief Share study and it was great to share with others. God blessed us!!
    Love an prayers.

  10. Russ Arbuckle says:

    The Bible tells us of Jesus crying twice, once for his friend Lazarus and again for Jerusalem.
    People say men don’t cry, well I can prove them young. I’ve cried in church at home in the show and I don’t care were. Stay strong and God is helping you guys through the tough seas. You all will come out stronger and thank God for His Grace, Love, and Patrick.

  11. janet searle says:

    Tears are a language God understands. Thank you for always sharing so openly with us. You are a continual blessing to me. I love you and pray for you daily.

  12. Shelly McMahon says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart and being such a encouragement to the Body Of Christ. We need people like you who desire to be transparent and allow God to use them in Mighty way! We also need reminders like this one to bring us to our knees and never forget to hold you before the throne of God and hold your hands up during this difficult time. Be strong and Courageous, our God is Great God and He has a plan for you. You’re in my prayers

  13. Dena you continue to be a tower of strength even in the time of sorrow. Tears are a language that God understand. Continue to press on and keep your eyes on Him because it is only in Him you can be strengthen and heal. I will keep on lifting your family up in my prayers.

  14. byerlyj1 says:

    Reblogged this on DIFFERENT, LIKE YOU. and commented:
    Thank you for painting a real life, human picture of grief and how you deal with it. I have never heard that bible verse either- very interesting.

  15. Bethany (Bixby) Szobody says:

    Dena, your words have been a blessing to not only me, but my mother as well. My parents are struggling in their marriage. I came across your blog via facebook. Your struggles are not in vain. Thank you for sharing….(from former Fox Valley Bible Church)

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