THE BENEFITS OF SORROW
Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? How can sorrow and loss birth anything positive? Most of us, including myself, despise pain. Wasn’t that partly the motivation behind original sin, humans attempting to avoid pain and be in control of personal pleasure? So, why does our loving God allow unsolicited suffering to consume us with no visual resolution? I don’t know the answers, but I do believe the Master Artist is at work in us even when we don’t understand. He sees our potential, and hearts, as he paints each brushstroke of our lives with care.
The moments of sorrow I’m talking about pressing into, are as one of my friends recently described, “the place where life has driven you to your knees and all the faith you have is going into just hanging on.”
I realize going here is enough to drive us all to the bakery, but hang in here with me a minute. Yes, our fleshly desire is to take a detour from life’s construction zones, but a devotional I read recently on sorrow might provide some insightful and encouraging words I’d like to interject here:
“Sorrow, under the power of divine grace, performs various ministries in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths of the soul and unknown capacities for suffering and service. Lighthearted, frivolous people are always shallow and are never aware of their own meagerness or lack of depth. Sorrow is God’s tool to plow the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests. If humankind were still in a glorified state, having never fallen, then the strong floods of divine joy would be the force God would use to reveal our souls’ capacities. But in a fallen world, sorrow, yet with despair removed, is the power chosen to reveal us to ourselves. Accordingly, it is sorrow that causes us to take the time to think deeply and seriously.
Sorrow makes us move more slowly and considerately and examine our motives and attitudes. It opens within us the capacities of the heavenly life, and it makes us willing to set our capacities afloat on a limitless sea of service for God and for others.
Imagine a village of lazy people living at the foot of a great mountain range, yet who have never ventured out to explore the hidden valleys and canyons in the back mountains. One day a thunderstorm goes careening through the mountains revealing the hidden valleys like echoing trumpets and their inner recesses, like the twisted shapes of a giant seashell. The villagers at the foot of the hills are astonished at the labyrinths and the unexplored recesses of a region so nearby and yet so unknown. And so it is with many people who casually live on the outer edge of their own souls until great thunderstorms of sorrow reveal hidden depths within, which were never before know or suspected.
God never uses anyone to a great degree until He breaks the person completely. It is in the school of adversity that sorrow expands and deepens the soul.” (from the Heavenly Life)
“Blessed is sorrow, for it reveals God’s comfort.” (Henry Clay Trumbull)
-taken from Streams in the Desert Devotional (p. 40-41)
Might God develop our character through sorrow and affliction now, because in the fullness of His redemptive, overcoming nature He got creative after the fall with the Enemie’s tactics? Tribulation can, ushered by God’s grace, become the door to triumph.
What you are reading now (my whole blog essentially) is a souvenir from my sorrow thus far. I wouldn’t be writing, cooking, much less here, if it weren’t for this divine, yet painful, progression in my life. The pain has become tweezors to extract His gifts tucked deep inside me. It requires, and still does, much time, sweat and tears. Not saying I would love to relive the past 7 years, but in my heart of hearts, from where I stand now, it has been completely worth it and I’m not “out of the woods yet”.
“But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.…..we have placed our confidence in Him and He will continue to rescue us.” (2 Corinthians 1:9 & 10)
Now, I’m going to pose a question that may make your toes curl and stomach churn. It did mine, but I’m throwing it out there anyway because it’s been valuable to me:
What would it look like for us to embrace suffering?
Not to avoid our problems, or throw them over “there”, unhandled, to fester, and grow further pain and addictions. But, to look our pain and circumstances straight in the eye, along with all the painful emotions that arise, with our Heavenly Counselor and Friend by our side. I’m not saying to wallow in our sorrows, but to listen to what our Creator might be revealing to us in the midst of hardship.
Go ahead, let’s ask the hard questions and tell Him what’s honestly on our hearts. It takes time, like peeling away the layers of an onion. Not stuffing our feelings is part of the process.
Never will you or I be perfect on this earth, but please friends, let’s do this together; for the sake of our freedom, others, and God’s Holy Kingdom. We might as well run this race together, not fleeing or minimizing our own, or our brothers and sisters pain. Strength in numbers, right? Let us painstakingly plummet our buckets of sorrow, into God’s deep well of living, healing water. And if you don’t have a bucket right now, maybe someone else needs encouragement pulling theirs up to the well.
Please think on this if you choose and post any comments you may have.
“…The Lord will bless you with rain at planting time.” (Isaiah 30:23)
HOPE MAKES THE BLOOD CHANGE COURSES – Switchfoot