Late this week I’ll be gathering with many of my relatives and loved ones, to farewell a dear family member at their funeral.
Just last week two good friends informed me their first pregnancy recently ended in a miscarriage.
Another good friend is about to enter hospital for six weeks, to endure an extended period of chemotherapy, as doctors try desperately to treat the cancer that is slowly destroying his body.
Another friend missed an event we we’re due to attend, busy comforting his sister over the breakdown of her marriage.
We can’t escape sorrow. It’s a side-affect of being human. Every person has experienced sorrow. We all know the pain deep inside that wells up and threatens to engulf the entire body. We all know the internal pain of intense suffering that overwhelms the senses and seeks to drown us.
Why does this happen? Why are we subjected to this pain? And how should we respond to it?
Deep emotional sorrow has been part of the human journey from the very beginning. The wages of sin is death, and we’re all guilty of going against God’s good plan. Death entered the world when the first man sinned, and it’s been a regular part of our story since them. David laments is Psalm 13.
“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?”
Again is Psalm 13.
“Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.”
We bring grief upon ourselves when we turn against our creator, and the consequences are ours to bear.
So how should we respond to sorrow? Is there anything we can gain from surviving such pain?
Jesus provides the perfect example of bearing through the pain of sorrow. The perfect man, who didn’t deserve any sorrow, suffered beyond our imagination. He endured extreme pain and anguish, for our sake.
We should look to his example to see how to respond. Enduring our sorrow with humility and patience conforms us more into the image of Jesus. By bearing through anguish, we grow into the likeness of Jesus. By surviving, we learn.
These words, penned by Robert Browning Hamilton, I find a helpful reminder.
“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 ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.”
Liam Denny is a former radio journalist and newsreader, now working to bring the good new of Jesus to media workers in Sydney through the ‘Christians in the Media’ ministry. In his spare time, you’ll find him having coffee with his wife Jenny in cafes around Sydney’s inner west, playing sport and taking his dog for a swim in the harbour.
You can read his other work at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/liam-denny.html