Do you have one of these? David said God does.
Around 100 A.D., Middle Eastern tomb raiders found small ceramic bottles when they plundered the tombs of the wealthy. Many times mislabeled as perfume bottles, these small bottles are called lachrymatories. Better known as tear bottles.
Experts do not know exactly how the theory of tear bottles first developed and used. In each era they were used, tear bottles were made of differing materials, like glass, pottery, sardonyx stone, and even animal skins or wineskins, which were common vessels for carrying fluids.
Tears were collected during times of grief and extreme stress, such as mourning the death of a loved or when a soldier went to war. In the case of the absent soldier, his loved one (a wife, mother, etc.) caught her tears in a bottle and, when the soldier came home, she would show him the bottle and how much she cried for him.
Such was the case in ancient Persia. When a sultan returned from battle, he checked the tear catchers of his wives’ to see who had wept in his absence and missed him the most.
Tear bottles were rare in most burials but common among the wealthy. Hundreds of these small, decorative bottles have been found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs.
They were fairly common in ancient Roman times. Women were occasionally hired for funerals to cry into these vessels, as they walked along the mourning procession.
The theory was that their crying into the bottles was a sign of respect and honor. It is said that those producing the most tears and wailing the loudest received the most compensation. And thereby proved the perception of the importance and value of the deceased person. The mourners then placed the bottles in the person’s burial tomb as symbols of respect.
Tear bottles reappeared during the Victorian period in the British Empire among the wealthy when mourning the loss of loved ones. These were more elaborate than their Roman predecessors and were often decorated with silver and pewter.
During this time, men and women alike would shed tears for the deceased at funerals. At ceremonies for the wealthy, lachrymatories would be given for guests to capture their tears and aid in their mourning.
These tear bottles were designed with special seals, which allowed the tears to evaporate. By the time the tears were assumed to have evaporated, the mourning period was considered over.
Probably common enough during the time of David, those reading his psalm would have understood his words. He wrote, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Ps. 56:8 NLT)
The Lord keeps a record of our heartaches and stores our tears in His bottle. But through all the agony of life, we have our Comforter, Who never leaves us. He says, “I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.” (Jer. 31:13b NLT)
And when we enter heaven, the Lord will show us those bottles are empty, for the mourning period will be over. No more heavy hearts. No more tears.
Be comforted, my sweet friend, in your now. The Lord is with you to comfort you. And the time is coming when “God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:17b NLT)