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Bowl of Tears

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Psalm 55:16

In Boston, Massachusetts, a plaque titled “Crossing the Bowl of Tears” remembers those who braved the Atlantic to escape death during the catastrophic Irish potato famine of the late 1840s. More than a million people died in that disaster, while another million or more abandoned home to cross the ocean, which John Boyle O’Reilly poetically called “a bowl of tears.” Driven by hunger and heartache, these travelers sought some measure of hope during desperate times.

In Psalm 55, David shares how he pursued hope. While we’re uncertain about the specifics of the threat he faced, the weight of his experience was enough to break him emotionally (vv. 4–5). His instinctive reaction was to pray, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (v. 6).

Like David, we may want to flee to safety in the midst of painful circumstances. After considering his plight, however, David chose to run to his God instead of running from his heartache, singing, “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me” (v. 16).

When trouble comes, remember that the God of all comfort is able to carry you through your darkest moments and deepest fears. He promises that one day He Himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4). Strengthened by this assurance, we can confidently trust Him with our tears now.

What causes you to want to run away? What’s your instinctive reaction when trouble comes?

Father, when life feels overwhelming, give me strength. Give me Your presence and comfort, for without You, I’m lost.
Listen to Discover the Word conversations, “Tearful Expressions” at discovertheword.org/series/tearful-expressions.


In Psalm 55, David laments a deeply felt personal betrayal, often speculated to be that of Ahithophel, an advisor who supported David’s son Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 15:12). However, the psalm withholds identifying details, allowing it to be an expression of the deep pain and difficulty of trusting again after a betrayal (Psalm 55:6–8), especially when it’s disguised as friendship and service to God (vv. 12–15).

Monica Brands

By |2019-04-29T13:52:02-04:00May 8th, 2019|
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