Refined by Sorrow

Sorrow is better than laughter,sad1c
for sadness has a refining influence on us.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 NLT

Never had I witnessed sorrow bring such a transformation.

When times of deep sorrow strike, many choose the road of bitterness toward God. If God’s as good as you claim, why did…, they ask. And I’ve wondered the same thing when traveling roads of sorrow. Not James. I was his pastor, but he and his wife rarely attended church. Nor had I ever been to their home. Only through the grapevine did I know they had marital challenges.

Late one evening, I received a call about a wreck involving James’ wife and young son. She had swerved to avoid a deer, ran off the road, and crashed. She was banged up and in shock. Her infant son was dead.

Following the funeral and several days of intense grieving, James began attending church regularly. Actually, every time the doors opened. Soon he walked the aisle, rededicated his life to Christ, and requested baptism. He continued to grow spiritually, and within a year of the accident was serving as a deacon in the church. Sorrow had refined him.

What wise King Solomon says seems ludicrous. Who in their right mind would rather have sorrow than laughter? But his conclusion is accurate: sadness has a refining influence.

Periods of sorrow remind me I have little—if any, jurisdiction over most of what happens to me. Through hindsight, I see how I could have changed the course of some of my travels, but most of them were outside my control.

Knowing God has a determitive and permissive will helps. Some things will happen because He has determined they will while others occur because He permits them—even though they aren’t in His perfect plan. Understanding this requires faith and my admitting I can’t always understand God’s ways. They are higher than mine.

If I respond correctly, sorrow will refine my relationship with God by moving me closer to Him. Knowledge that He’s in control will replace worry and anxiety. I’ll plunge deeply into His Word and run to Him through prayer. Sorrow can also produce a greater level of perseverance and patience. After all, I have a hope unbelievers don’t.

Don’t let the sorrow that comes from living in a sinful world depress you. God loves you and is in control of your life events. If you let Him, He will refine you through sorrow.

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