A little pail of tears

When Vernon Davis was just starting at a new church he went to visit a matriarch in the congregation. She was a lovely woman in her 90’s. She knew so much about the church. She had been there through all the peaks and valleys. They had a great visit and Vernon learned a lot.

When he was leaving, the elderly woman stopped him. She had something important to say.

“Reverend Davis,” she said, “when you come to church on Sunday morning, we’ll all be wearing nice clothes, and we’ll all smile at you. And when you ask us how we are doing, we’ll all say we are doing fine. But don’t let that fool you. Just remember that under every heart is a little pail of tears.”*

That’s a moving story. And it’s true, isn’t it? She didn’t mean that we’re always sad and just pretending to be happy. I think she was highlighting that deep within each one of us we carry around hurts and disappointments. A life of faith includes joy, peace, love and purpose—but also aches and pains.

There are times when you need to talk about how you’re feeling. There are times when you don’t. It’s up to you.

But the point is this. Be gracious and kind. In Galatians 6:2, Paul writes: “Carry each other’s burdens…” There are times when carrying someone’s burden simply has to do with a kind or understanding word, and recognizing that they’re probably dealing with more than you realize.

Under every heart is a little pail of tears. Be kind.


–Podcast: “Thom Rainer on the difference between church consumers and church members.” Click here.

–The Up Devotional is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on October 24, 2022.

–*Martin Thielen, Searching for Happiness (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016), 80.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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