Yes, there are moths that drink the tears of elephants! Known as Mabra elephantophila this particular species of moth is shy, tiny, and delicate. It’s remarkable behavior astonished entomologists when first discovered. Scientists now believe that, because tears contain not only salt and water but also trace levels of protein, they become a very nutritious source of food for moths. And, the Mabra elephantophila, because of its tiny size is able to feast on tears without the elephant even noticing.
But hold on, there are other moths that feast on tears as well. Most, it seems, prefer the tears of large hoofed mammals such as the wet eyes of horses, deer, tapirs, pigs, and occasionally, people. For some reason, they shy away from tears of carnivores such as dogs and cats.
It seems each species of moth has its own unique technique for extracting tears. For example, there is one moth that lands silently beside the eye of the victim. Then, very carefully, it sweeps its proboscis (the long slender tubular feeding and sucking “nose” structure) across the eye of its host, irritating the eyeball which then produces tears. Another species waits until the animal is asleep at which time it is able to insert it’s proboscis under the eyelid and drink away! But the poor moth, Poncetia, has such a short proboscis it must cling to the eyeball itself to drink. For this moth timing is of utmost importance, because if the weeping host blinks, more often than not dear ol’ Poncetia will never drink, or for that matter, fly again. Imagine the ignominy of being crushed to death by, of all things, an eyelid!
NATURE-ly SPEAKING — even as moths gain life-giving sustenance from animal tears, likewise we can spiritually feed ourselves with Biblical “tears.” Four of my favorite Biblical “tear” stories are as follows:
- The tears of a Queen. (Read the entire book of Esther, preferably from the New Living Translation, it’s a fast read!) The story of Queen Esther is a thrilling story of God placing the right person at the right place at the right time to save His people. I never tire of reading this story over and over again. In journalistic lingo, it falls into the category of the “biter gets bit.” In other words the bad guy gets his payback. The tears in this story don’t start flowing until the 8th chapter. But when the beautiful queen presented her petition to the king with flowing tears, he was moved and the process of redemption was put into action. The tears revealed Esther’s earnestness, her devotion, and her purpose of heart. Praying with tears is very effective. Oh, that we would shed tears while upon our knees.
- The tears of a King: (2 Kings 20:5 and 6). Poor King Hezekiah received word from the prophet that he was going to die. Through the prophet, God said to the King, “Set your affairs in order for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.” When Hezekiah heard this he broke down and wept saying, “Remember, O Lord, how I have always tried to be faithful to you and do what is pleasing in your sight.” Then God said, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you….” In this case a simple prayer mixed with tears brought another 15 years of life to King Hezekiah.
- The tears of a sinner: (Luke 7:36-50). This story tells of a sinful woman so repentant that she shed bitter tears which fell upon the feet of her Savior, Jesus the Christ. She then wiped them off with her hair. Jesus saw those tears which revealed her true repentance. He in return gave her the eternal salvation she so desperately desired. Oh, would more people fall at Jesus’ feet with true repentance and tears.
- The tears of a missionary: (Psalm 126:5,6). The key words in this passage are: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” A missionary is one who anguishes over the fate of people without Christ. The tears flow because missionaries are aware of the eternal tragedy that awaits anyone who has not yet received the good seed into his heart. The joy comes when the lost sheep and the lost coin (as explained in Luke 15) are found. Yes, joy, when a lost sinner is found and redeemed with eternal life by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
Praying with tears usually indicates a heart made malleable by a deep faith and a broken, humble spirit. Dry-eyed prayers can sometimes come from dry hearts. And dry hearts do not always produce the heavenly flowers that bloom from ones fed by nutritious tears.