Posted in Christian

The Blessing of Sorrow


Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

If comfort comes after mourning, why are we so quick to run from sorrow?

I have found myself making a habit out of trying to escape. I cannot count on both hands how many times in the recent weeks that I have been heartbroken over the sad events around me, or how many times I have searched for a distraction to separate myself from such pain.

Let’s get honest with ourselves for a moment. How often do you come across a painful situation, and after only a moment of weeping you leave that place behind in search of something more light-hearted? Something to distract your attention from the painful events? We all know someone that has a loved one that is terminally ill. Have you ever skipped over their facebook post because you weren’t in the mood for more bad news? I know I have. Over and over again, there has been one question that has convicted me every time. Why am I so quick to run from pain?

What’s wrong with hurting? Let’s face it, most of us are self-centered people that would happily live in a bubble all of our lives without getting our hands dirty with the despair around us if we could. It seems healthy at the time to fill our lives with only good news, so we never have to feel sorrow a moment longer than necessary. But is this really healthy? What does the scriptures say about this?

How many of the psalms start off with a grief-stricken heart only to end in joy? Is there something to be said by allowing grief to run its course instead of running from it? What good could come from hurting?

Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

It’s a known fact that the very thing that strengthens the Christian the most is not the hill top experiences but the valleys. The deep, dark and depressing areas; this is where we find strength, courage, and endurance. This is also where we hunger for that close relationship with our Lord. Do you not seek the Lord more earnestly when you are hurting compared to when you are satisfied?

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Romans 5:3-5 “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance,; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

If there are such great benefits from walking through the valley, then why are we so quick to run from it? Maybe it’s because we have a choice. When the problem at hand doesn’t touch our lives very closely, it is easy to brush it aside and move on. How many prayer requests do we see on facebook that we quickly scan past before searching for the game requests?

Am I the only one that has found themselves weeping over a situation only to dry my eyes and harden my heart? “I have to forget this,” I tell myself. “I’m not strong enough to carry this and it hurts to bad to think on it any longer. I don’t want to hurt anymore.” So I reach for something mindless and fluffy. Something that will bring the smile back to my face. Something that will help me to forget.

God has convicted me again and again. Just because I can walk away doesn’t mean that I should. What would happen if I shared another person’s sorrow just a little longer? What would happen if instead of stuffing my feelings aside and reaching for happy entertainment, I allowed my grief to bring me to my knees? Do you think that maybe that’s why we see so little change in our nation? In our friend’s circumstances? Don’t you think that God can see through our superficial sympathy? What if our sympathy turned into empathy?

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that in order to be super spiritual we should be seen with long faces, complete with sad and solemn personalities. But I am suggesting that instead of running from pain, we embrace it instead and allow it to do what God had designed it to do. Allow it to turn into prayer. What if it turned into sending an encouraging word or visiting with one who hurts? When was the last time your fears and sympathetic feelings led you to fasting and prayer? If you have walked through the valley at all in your Christian walk then you could easily testify to finding a closer relationship with Jesus during that time. And isn’t that the purpose for pain?

The Lord has been teaching me that to be healthy, I must stay broken. When I’m broken, my heart is tender. When my heart is tender, I will ache for those around me. When I ache for those around me, my pain (if not ignored) will turn to prayer. And prayer always turns into action.

James 4:2 “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

When was the last time you cried on behalf of another? When was the last time you were broken over your own sin? When was the last time you cried during the preaching of the Word? When was the last time you came to church with puffy eyes and a tear stained face from having a heart to heart with the Lord Jesus before the service ever began? What a difference our churches would experience if we allowed ourselves to feel pain. Pain over sin. Pain over neglected orphans. Pain over our country. Pain over the state of the Lord’s Church. Pain over the childless mother or the mother that just buried her child. Pain over the lost and the perishing. Pain over twisted laws that threaten our faith. Pain over the safety of our schools. Pain over the common message offered to our families through the media.

Do yourself a favor: Let go of your pride and let go of your comfort. Come broken before the Lord and allow Him to heal you. And maybe then, we will finally see the changes that we all desire.

Psalm 30:5 “You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”

Posted in Christian, History

Civil War Letters: Doubling Sorrows

2013_05252013spring0025I’ve browsed, read, scanned, and studied countless civil war letters over the past two years. It’s been entertaining, to be sure! I’ve found myself growing, not only in my love for the history, but also in knowledge. I’ve grown to admire the people that have endured so much. I’ve often found myself laughing out loud at some of the descriptions or at trash talk that was often exchanged between enemies. But sweeter than that, were the rare times when these faded words spoke Truth to my heart.

I was blessed to get my hands on a copy of Old Enough to Die by Ridley Willis II. This collection of family letters were extremely helpful to me in my research. And it was within these pages that I found a beautiful nugget of truth that deserves to be shared. This particular letter is addressed to a sister. And he writes:

I am sorry that you allow yourself to have the “blues” which you complain of having, in your letter. It is a disease, which like chills, will become chronic if allowed to continue unchecked. I have, in my younger days, sometimes indulged myself in gloomy dreams and fancies but I have quit the bad habit.  I have suffered more intensely from the anticipation of evils that never came to pass, than I have ever from actual, real sorrows.I have learned that real happiness has its source in the heart and not in external circumstances….Happiness is like the sunlight, free to all, high and low, rich and poor alike, and is only denied to those who willfully shut themselves up in the darkness. Have the blues no more. Turn your thoughts more upon the blessing which you have, rather than to those which you have not; never double sorrows by anticipating them but wait till they come upon you and then, forget them as soon as possible.   -J.L. Bostick