January 20

“Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” Ecclesiastes 7:3

“When sorrow comes under the power of Divine grace, it works out a manifold ministry in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul, and unknown capabilities of experience and service. Gay, trifling people are always shallow, and never suspect the little meannesses in their nature. Sorrow is God’s plowshare that turns up and subsoils the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests. If we had never fallen, or were in a glorified state, then the strong torrents of Divine joy would be the normal force to open up all our souls’ capacities; but in a fallen world, sorrow, with despair taken out of it, is the chosen power to reveal ourselves to ourselves. Hence it is sorrow that makes us think deeply, long, and soberly. Sorrow makes us go slower and more considerately, and introspect our motives and dispositions. It is sorrow that opens up within us the capacities of the heavenly life, and it is sorrow that makes us willing to launch our capacities on a boundless sea of service for God and our fellows. . . . Every person and every nation must take lessons in God’s school of adversity.” (Streams in the Desert)

Do not confuse inconvenience with suffering. Most days include a nuisance here or there—traffic delays, inclement weather, and the like. “It is extraordinary what an enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention from God” (Oswald Chambers). Minor irritations and frustrations may at times reveal cracks in our character, but seldom alter the core of who we are. Sorrow does. Suffering changes the way I view myself and those around me; more importantly, it transforms my understanding of God. Sorrow demands a deeper dependence on the Father, and mines the depths of our own hearts. Distinguish between disappointment and sorrow, then relinquish your hurt and your heart to the Father who cares about both.

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