Have you noticed that our media doesn’t like to promote sadness? It almost seems our culture says, Banish all sadness and grief—live for today and be happy. Funny that, but most of life is spent avoiding pain and sorrow.
We don’t like that coming into our lives, because life is supposed to be happy and fun. Even when we get bad news on TV, the news presenters like to conclude with a funny story or something designed to make us smile. The motto for many today is something like this: Blessed are those who laugh their way through life.
Some of us will do almost anything to stifle our sadness and turn away from tears. We live in a culture that has made the pursuit of happiness its chief goal in life. I mean, we’re pleasure-mad. We avoid problems. We run from difficulties. We despise troubles. We don’t want to deal with things that make us unhappy. Life is hard enough as it is.
Do We Need to Avoid Sorrow?
Our society says, “Forget your troubles. Turn your back on them. Do everything you can not to face them. Sorrow is bad; happiness is good. Things are bad enough as they are without you going to look for trouble. So don’t mourn. Don’t worry. Be happy.” But that’s not really the way things go.
I read this verse in Proverbs 14:13: “Sorrow may hide behind laughter, and happiness may end in sorrow”. How true that is for some who wear a mask, never revealing their true feelings. And even their laughter is not really laughter—it’s only a pretence. What a challenge we have to be real and authentic people, as God intends for us. Ecclesiastes 7:6 says: “Foolish laughter is foolish. It sounds like thorns crackling in a fire”
Have you heard the poem:
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
she chatted all the way.
But left me none the wiser
for all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
and not a word said she.
But, oh! The things I learned
when sorrow walked with me.
In one of the most profound, and unusual texts in the Bible, Jesus declares in Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn; for they will be comforted.” This startling paradox could be put this way: Happy are the unhappy or The gladness of sadness or God applauds you when you’re in agony. God is much more concerned with our character than he is with our temporary conditions.
Of the different words that can be translated ‘mourn’, Jesus is using the strongest one available. It means ‘to grieve or wail’ as when a loved one dies. It is deep sorrow that causes the soul to ache and the heart to break. Jesus is not talking about complainers or moaners, but about those who are gripped by grief as seen in Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
A Better Approach to Dealing With Sorrow
I’d like to suggest something that might help:
1. Lament the losses in your life. This first area might be the easiest in the sense that we all have experienced pain at some point in our lives, and if we haven’t, we know it’s coming. We read in 1 Peter 4:12: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”
You may have gone through some health issues that made you afraid about the future. Perhaps you’ve experienced a relational problem with someone and it’s eating your heart out. Can you relate with the words of the psalmist in Psalm 6:6?: “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.”
Maybe you’ve lost a loved one through death and you still cry yourself to sleep at night. You can relate to how David felt when his son Absalom died in 2 Samuel 18:33: “The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept…’” When Abraham’s wife Sarah died, we read in Genesis 23:2 that he “…came to mourn…and to weep for her.” Remember, that since Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died, it’s OK for you to cry as well.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” It’s better to go to a funeral than to a party because sadness is actually good for us, especially if it helps get us ready for our own death and enables us to live like we should now.
Or, maybe you’re weeping because you want to have a child and you’re still waiting. Your heart is breaking just like Hannah’s was in 1 Samuel 1:10,16: “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord…I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” Did you know that God collects every tear you shed? Listen to Psalm 56:8 in the New King James Version: “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into your bottle.”
Christianity is the only religion that allows you to be real. When you’re hurting, let it out. When you feel like crying, let the tears fall. God understands. He cares. And he will provide you with comfort. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus sympathises with our weaknesses and Isaiah 53:3-4 characterises Christ as one “…despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.”
2. God draws near to those who cry. Psalm 34:18 says that God is close to us when we cry. Even when things seem overwhelming and impossible to you, comfort is coming.
3. God uses suffering and sorrow to draw us to himself. In Psalm 34:4, we read that David’s fears caused him to seek the Lord. Someone put it this way: “You’ll never know if Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” Comfort is coming.
4. We grow faster in hard times than we do in good times. Romans 5 reminds us that suffering leads to perseverance, which leads to character growth, which produces hope. Comfort is coming.
5. Our pain helps us minister to others. When we’re at a loss because of our losses, when we cry over the condition of others, when our own sins give us exceeding sorrow, and when we weep over the condition of our world, according to 2 Corinthians 1:4, God will comfort us “…so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” This is the same word that is used in Matthew 5:4. Comfort is coming.
6. Hold on to the promises of Scripture. Here are a few passages that provide hope and comfort. Close your eyes as I read them and allow God’s Word to go down deep into your soul:
- “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God.” (Job 16:19-20)
- “The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:8)
- “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” (Psalm 10:14)
- “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
- “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:32-33)
- “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Copyright © 2006-2007 Pontiac Bible Church