Do you enjoy collecting things? Many of us do. Perhaps you collect stamps, vintage baseball cards, Barbie dolls, movie memorabilia, autographs or folk art.
Or maybe your hoard is a little more esoteric. You might specialize in collecting Cracker Jack prizes, Coca-Cola ads, thimbles, snow globes, or vintage fountain pens. These interests may be a bit more off the beaten path, but still within the realms of normal.
But it’s possible that your collection veers into the truly strange and oddball, like the following:
Manfred S. Rothstein, a dermatologist from North Carolina, has a collection of 675 back scratchers from over 70 different countries. I must confess I don’t even own one back scratcher (unless you count the one on the end of my arm).
Have you misplaced your umbrella sleeve? Nancy Hoffman of Maine has a collection of 730 unique umbrella covers, enough to be recognized by Guinness World Records. Her home is open to the public as an umbrella cover museum: perhaps a nice place to visit on a rainy day?
Becky Martz has a collection of over 7,000 unique banana stickers, and she isn’t the only one a bit “bananas” for these labels. Aficionados of this strange hobby have their own Banana Sticker Collector Convention.
If you feel a bit queasy when flying, you’ll be interested to know that Dutch collector Niek Vermeulen has amassed a collection of almost 6,300 air sickness bags from over 1,000 airlines. There is actually an Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum, which also features bus sickness, sea sickness, and space sickness bags.
There are people who collect traffic cones, toilet seats, dinosaur poop, and moist towelettes. One fellow has amassed over 11,000 “Do Not Disturb” hotel signs (I guess he really likes his privacy). There seems to be no end to the unusual things people like to accumulate.
But perhaps the most touching collection of all is recorded in the Bible. In Psalm 56:8 it says that God collects our tears:
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (NLT)
It’s said that in ancient times, it was a custom to take a little vial with you when visiting a loved one who was in pain or distress. As they wept, you would catch their tears in the bottle. The tear-filled bottle would be sealed and kept as a memorial of the person’s suffering.
God might not have an actual bottle where He stores our tears, but the point is that He notices each tear that falls. He doesn’t ignore our sufferings, but rather is keenly interested in all the things that happen to us. Our tender-hearted Heavenly Father remembers everything we’ve gone through, every trouble and hardship, every night we’ve stayed up weeping.
Not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing, and not one tear falls down your cheek without God being acutely aware of it. God notices our tears as if collecting each one in a bottle, or recording them individually in a ledger. Each one is meaningful to Him.
We can trust that God remembers our sorrows. Not only will He never forget our sufferings, He promises that He cares for us, will comfort us, and will always be with us. We can find peace in our sufferings and difficulties because nothing about our lives escapes God’s attention.
And in the end, when we’re with Him in Heaven, God won’t need to collect our tears any more:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 ESV)
God promises believers that the day is coming when our sorrow will be turned into joy, and our tears into laughter.
His days as a tear-collector will be over forever!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.