Tears for the Children
Jack C. Garrison
“Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.” (Lamentations 2:19)
Nestled in the quiet solitude of the Cookson Hills in eastern Oklahoma lies the sleepy little town of Locust Grove. Over the years little attention has been focused on this innocent little community. However, in June 1977 national attention zeroed in on Locust Grove. While at-tending a Girl Scout Camp just outside the town, three little girls were brutally murdered. A suspect was arrested and ultimately placed on trial for one of the most atrocious crimes in the history of Oklahoma. Almost two years after this dastardly crime was committed, Gene Leroy Hart was placed on trial, the jury found the defendant not guilty.
The entire drama of this heart-rending story is masterfully described by Michael and Dick Wilkerson in their book, Someone Cry for the Children. It was the theme of this book that inspired this sermon. While sitting on the plat-form of our church several years ago, my three daughters entered the church. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the fact that my girls had not been filled with the Holy Ghost. I remember thinking “Oh, God! Have I cried for my girls with the compassion necessary to bring them to that place of spiritual hunger?” My eyes scanned the building, noticing one child after another. Suddenly the realization came to me that the church as a body must begin to cry for the children.
Parental Tears: There is a lot of talk in this age about juvenile delinquency, and rightly so. However, it seems that there is not enough attention given to parental delinquency. How can we as an adult generation deny that our children are a reflection of what we are? If parents have ever
shed tears for their children, they must cry for their souls more now than ever in history of the world. The burden must be heavy, the compassion must be desperate. Parents, awake from your slumber and cry for your children and the children of others.
Too many times the tears are shed after it is too late. I invite your attention to II Samuel 18. If we follow closely we will hear Kind David crying. Oh, yes, this great king, whom God found to be a man after his own heart, will cry. Joab has gone to war against Absalom, and David’s command was that Absalom should be dealt with gently. However, when the report concerning Absalom’s fate reaches David, he cries. Listen as he weeps: “…0 my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, 0 Absalom, my son, my son!” (II Samuel 18:33) Oh, yes, David cried, but it was too late. How different the story might have been had he cried for his son in those young tender formative years. If only he had cried for his children on that dreadful evening instead of walking upon the roof of the king’s house (II Samuel 11:2)
If we expect our children to be saved we must cry for them. We cannot constantly fill their little ears with things they should not hear and expect them to be saved in the end. The parent, who constantly criticizes the preacher, the church, the saints, and everything related to the kingdom, cannot possibly expect good results in the end. Be reminded parents, if you don’t cry for your children, who will? Do you expect the neighbor to do it? Will the leaders at school shed the tears? It is doubtful. Do not wait until it is too late to cry for the children.
Tearful Leadership: Church leaders have been entrusted with the most priceless possession in the world — the human soul. No church official should ever be in a position of leadership with-out a burden. No Sunday School teacher should enter a classroom on Sunday morning without being prepared. If the teacher is not prepared it does not take long for the children to recognize it. Little souls are too precious for a tearless teacher to toy with. Whether it be the pastor, youth leader, Sunday School superintendent, Sun-day School teachers, or the church janitor — sainted voices must be uplifted to God in unison as the church leadership cries for the children. Woe be unto that church leader who is so caught up in his own little tower that he cannot cry for the children who come to the church that beacons the truth to a lost community.
What of that great Old Testament leader, Moses? When faced with seeing God’s people wiped out, he asked God to blot him out also. There is no self-centeredness here – only the powerful passion of a leader who would not al-low himself to be distracted from the throb of his heart – the burden that causes one to cry for the children.
Tears of the Church: Much has been preached, and much has been written comparing the church to motherhood. I certainly concur with that analogy. I am reminded of an Old Testament Mother whose name was Rizpah. I recognize that Rizpah cannot be acclaimed as a true type of the church; however, allow me the privilege of making the Motherhood comparison. (II Samuel 21:1-15). Rizpah’s two sons had been hanged by the Gibeonites. The love of this Mother is seen as she makes her way to the place where her boys had met their death. The Bible tells us that she sat upon a rock from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven and drove away the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. This Mother did not cease to cry for her children even though they were dead. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ can do no less. The church, the Mother of us all, must strengthen itself and cry for its children.
We hide our heads in the sand if we think the vultures of the world have not determined to devour our children. How often do we shed tears over one of our bus children who may have run afoul of the law? God give us compassion to cry for those little fellows before the dark days come upon them. As the Mother, the church must chase away the vultures of sin and shame.
Many years ago John Spargo wrote a very moving book, The Bitter Cry of the Children. In this book, Spargo describes the pitiful plight of poverty that devoured many American children during the stormy years of the industrial revolution. Spargo contends that the cries and screams of war cannot compare with the anguished laments of children who have become victims of supreme hunger and starvation. Any student of history knows of the deplorable conditions that gripped America during the “age of the robber barons.”
Over the years we have seen the institution of numerous social programs designed to eradicate the physical hunger that once engulfed many of America’s children. However, if we listen with thirsty ears we will still hear the bitter cry of the children. Many of them are not crying for bread today, but for the salvation of their souls. Governments may provide children with bread and hospitals may cure their physical needs, but let us never forget that only the church can supply their spiritual needs. While the buzzards of hell hover over their souls, the church must cry for the children. We will never attend a place of worldly entertainment and hear the announcer rise and say “sports fans, let us all cry for the children – they are lost- they’re going to hell.” Forget it – it will never happen. If tears are shed, they must flow from the warm cheeks of the Mother – the church.
The Tears of Jesus: Christ left us an example that we should follow (I Peter 2:21). At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus wept (John 11:35). Our Master cried for the children of unbelief. Again we see Him weeping over the city of Jerusalem (Matt 23:37). If Jesus could cry for the children of Jerusalem, I am duty bound to cry for the children of my city – every other preacher is duty bound to cry for the children of his city. The world won’t do it – the world can’t do it. We do not want the world to do it. The responsibility is mine and yours. The time has come for someone to shed TEARS FOR THE CHILDREN.
Reprinted From March/April 1986 Beacon
The above article, “Tears for the Children,” is written by Jack C. Garrison. The article was excerpted from 2013 Oklahoma District Beacon.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.