T. Dewitt Talmage (pictured below) was a well-known Brooklyn, New York preacher in the late 1800’s. He died in 1902. He once preached a message titled, “The Ministry of Tears.” It speaks powerfully to the reality of grief, but is also laced with an enormous spirit of hope.
He is basically trying to answer this great question: “What’s the use of our tears?”
Here are a few choice lines:
Why, when a family is put together, not have them all stay, or if they must be transplanted to make other homes, then have them all live? The family record telling a story of marriages and births, but of no deaths. Why not have the harvests chase each other without fatiguing toil, and all our homes afflicted?
Why the hard pillow, the hard crust, the hard struggle? It is easy enough to explain a smile, or a success, or a congratulation; but, come now, and bring all your dictionaries and all your philosophies and all your religions, and help me this evening to explain a tear.
A chemist will tell you that it is made up of salt and lime, and other component parts; but he misses the chief ingredients – the acid of a soured life, the viper sting of a bitter memory, the fragments of a broken heart.
I will tell you what a tear is; it is agony in solution. It is the Ministry of trouble to make us feel our complete dependence upon God.
Jesus had enough trial to make Him sympathetic with all trial.
If we could get any appreciation of what God has in reserve for us, it would make us so home sick we would be unfit for our everyday work.
Have you any appreciation this evening of the good and glorious times your friends are having in Heaven?
How different it is when they get news there of a Christian’s death from what it is here. It is the difference between embarkation and coming into port. Everything depends upon which side of the river you stand when you hear of a Christian’s death. If you stand on this side of the river you mourn that they go. If you stand on the other side of the river, you rejoice that they come.