Sorrow is OK
Many days it took all the strength I could muster to get out of bed. Sorrow has a way of draining our tank. Some days I felt as though I was running on fumes. Eventually, I learned that it was okay to feel sadness and sorrow. Sad events generate sadness, that’s normal. I discovered that feeling sadness is different from being sad. Feelings come and go. Sorrow and sadness have their seasons, but they are not who I am.
We tend to think of sorrow as a “bad” emotion. It isn’t fun, but neither is it bad. In reality, sorrow is a natural emotion that we all experience. The challenge is knowing what to do with the profound sorrow that accompanies a major life loss or mistake.
We want to feel good right now instead of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. But learning to trust God means we must face some unhappy, sorrowful moments to learn to trust Him. As we walk by faith and not by sight, there will be some sad days when we don’t feel happy and in control. Our sight will be blurry and our faith vulnerable to doubt.
Sorrow is a Goldilocks emotion. Too much can be destructive, too little is also dangerous, but the proper amount is just right!
The Corinthian church had excess baggage; ugly, self-centered, rebellious, relational tension and sexual sins were part of their story. They had plenty to cause them sorrow. Despite their painful past, Paul explains that their sorrow could have an upside. He tells the Corinthians,
Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)
The sorrow here is specifically related to their sinful actions, but it can apply to all sources of sadness. Three good things can come from our sadness:
Sorrow provides us an opportunity for self-reflection and a change of direction. Our pain provides us the opportunity to evaluate and reorient our lives. Sorrow leads us to repentance.
Sorrow, handled well, helps us gain a healthy awareness of the wrong around us. For the Corinthians, and for us, sorrow can be a means to respond to evil with indignation, alarm, concern, and a readiness to see justice done. These are right responses to the sources of pain.
The outcome of a healthy response to sorrow can certainly benefit us, but it also overflows, providing encouragement to others. A few verses later Paul reminded the Corinthians, and us, “By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.” (2 Corinthians 7:13)
Don’t allow sorrow to paralyze or disable you. Use it as a motivation to look inside and change what needs to be better. Look outside at the evil in the world with renewed zeal to make things right and just. And remember, our response to sorrow will impact the lives of others as well as our own.