Jul 23, 2012
Yesterday I heard news about someone that brought me deep sorrow.
I felt sadness, heart-break, grief.
And I wondered — what does God want me to do with this sorrow?
That’s what Paul commanded — in Phil 3:1.
So does “rejoice always” mean “never sorrow”?
I don’t think so, because in 2Cor 6:10 Paul said the apostles were “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”
So the command to rejoice does not mean we can never sorrow.
But sorrow can take us in two opposite directions — either towards Christ or away from Christ.
The rich young ruler’s sorrow led him away from Christ (Matt 19:22).
But the disciples’ sorrow led them toward Christ (Matt 26:22).
So I wondered — how could my sorrow lead me toward Christ?
How can I sanctify this sorrow?
Holy and unholy
First I looked more closely at my sorrow — to see what parts were holy — and what parts were not.
Parts were holy —
- I grieved that God had been dishonored
- I grieved that I was not able to do more to help this person
- I grieved for this person’s pain
- I grieved for others’ pain
But part of my grief was not holy. Part was about my image — how this situation could make me look bad.
Since that part of my grief was not holy, I confessed it to God. I asked Him to forgive and cleanse me through Jesus Christ.
And I asked Him to help me stop seeking satisfaction in how others viewed me — so I could be free from the unholy part of my grief.
But what about the rest of my grief?
God is grieving with me
It struck me that since the rest of my grief was holy — it was not wrong.
In fact, God was pleased that I —
- grieved over His dishonor,
- grieved that I could not do more to help this person not dishonor God
- grieved over this person’s pain
- grieved for other’s pain
Which meant that I could draw near to God in that grief — I could fellowship with Him in that grief — and God would grieve with me in that grief.
Really? Does God grieve with us in our griefs?
Yes. When Jesus sees the widow whose only son just died, “he had compassion on her” (Luk 7:13).
Which means — He felt her grief, shared her grief, and grieved with her.
And I saw — that’s what God wanted to do with me in my grief.
So I asked told Him about my grief. I asked Him to share my grief. I grieved before Him — and with Him.
And as I felt that — it deeply affected me —
- I felt the holy parts of my grief even more deeply
- I felt a powerful closeness to God
- I felt comforted by His nearness
But there was more.
It struck me that God is not just grieving with me —
God is rejoicing over me
I get that from Jer 32:41 –“I will rejoice in doing them good.”
So in this situation God was not only grieving with me — He was also rejoicing over me.
Why? Because in this situation He was bringing me great good.
I don’t know all of what that good is.
But in His Word He tells us the most important part — He’s bringing me more of His heart-satisfying glory (2Cor 4:17).
So as I grieved, I also preached to myself the truth that God was bringing me great good through this sadness — the good of more of His presence.
And it struck me how important that truth was — because I could feel it putting a floor under my grief so it did not slip into despair.
Sanctifying your sorrows
- Ignore them
- Think they will go away in time
- Dull them with alcohol or sexual pleasure or food
- Despair over them
- Repent of the unholy parts of your sorrow
- Fellowship with God in the holy parts of your sorrow
- Trust that He is bringing you great good through this time of sorrow
And by God’s grace you will —
- Be freed from the sinful parts of your sorrow
- Experience God’s nearness in your sorrow
- Be encouraged at what God promises to bring you through this sorrow.
Try this — and let me know what happens
Leave a reply below — thanks!
If you know someone who would benefit from reading this — email it to them using the “share” button below — or use the buttons to share it on your favorite social media.
If you would like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts — subscribe here. (I will only use your email address for Living By Faith Blog communications — and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.)
And here’s some related posts you might find helpful —
How God comforted Hudson Taylor
Asking Why? Here's God's Loving Purpose For Every Trial
Dealing with Loss and Grief?
Strong Tower -- Newsboys' Powerful Worship Song
(Picture is by letcombe from everystockphoto.)