In the spring of 1999 I walked into the local humane society to look at the dogs. My wife, Shannon had always wanted a yellow Labrador. It just so happened that on this particular day there was a beautiful nine month old yellow Lab just waiting for someone to give her a home. I went to get Shannon so she could come to the humane society, we got the dog, took her home, named her Casey and a friendship that would last nearly thirteen and a half years began. Last weekend, the years caught up to our fourteen year old friend. A once vibrant and playful pet could no longer walk and could actually even barely stand. It was time to let her go. The decision to have her put to sleep was not easy but it was the right thing to do. I cried when I made the decision. I cried as I stroked her head in her final moments at our house. I cried as I carried her into the vet’s office, hugged her and gave her to one of the attendants. As I’m writing this now, I am crying again. One of the thoughts that has crossed my mind is why I would cry over an animal. Some would say it’s because a pet becomes more than a mere animal to us as the years pass and I’m sure that’s true. Maybe the tears were brought about because I had gotten Casey for Shannon and her passing reminded me of Shannon’s passing in 2010. Whatever the cause for the tears, at one point during my sadness another thought came to mind: “Why can’t I cry like this over lost souls?”
The weeping prophet, Jeremiah had a heart soft enough to be moved to tears over sin. He wrote, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9:1). As he warned Judah of their need to obey God, Jeremiah said, “But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away.” (Jeremiah 13:17). After Judah was carried away, Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. He said, “Mine eyes do fail with tears…” (Lamentations 2:11).
While each of us as Christians struggles with our own temptations and weaknesses, there are countless others who are doing the same but they are engaging in these battles unarmed. They don’t know Jesus Christ. They have not obeyed His Gospel. They’re not aware that there is salvation (Acts 4:12), hope (Romans 8:24), joy (Romans 5:11) and the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) available to them through the blood of Christ. They are limping through life unaided and they are going into eternity unprepared. We have the good news that can ease their sorrow and brighten their future. We have the message that can lead them away from eternal damnation to everlasting rest. How much love do we have for lost souls? How much compassion do we have for those who are fainting and scattered abroad, wandering about like so many sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)? Where are the tears that should emanate from hearts broken by the thought of men and women being lost?
Unfortunately, we allow our tears to be stanched by fear, indifference, focus on daily tasks and other factors. We allow anything and everything to keep us from thinking about the lost. We give entrance to Satan and permit him control of our thoughts. “Someone else will teach the lost.” “I don’t have the ability to teach anyone.” “I don’t know enough to teach.” And while we listen to Satan and close our hearts to the needs of the lost, another soul departs this life in the direction of eternal damnation. And another… and another… and another. According to some estimates, on average there are over 150,000 deaths per day in the world. Only God knows how many of those are lost. What are you and I as Christians doing to reach them with the Gospel before they go into eternity?
“Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.” (Psalm 119:136). Where are our tears for the lost? Where are our efforts to spread the Gospel that should result from these tears?