Posted by: T. Boyd | April 12, 2015

Life is Unspeakably Sad

Recently I bought three books that were recommended to me: Inside Out  by Larry Crabb, When Heaven is Silent  and The Faith Crisis by Ron Dunn.

Crabb’s book hits quick and deep about our natural, strong desire to avoid conflict and sadness, and how the church has facilitated that escapism with its surface “fixes” and programs to keep us busy – not just the church, but it is also my own tendency to escape into a new hobby or activity in order to keep my mind away from the sadness.

Dr. Crabb’s famous line, “Life is unspeakably sad” is so insightful – that life will always bring us episodes of sorrow until Christ returns – that Jesus will provide a means to experience joy in the midst of the sorrow, to give us hope of the victory to come as He brings worship to our hearts; an assurance that the outcome doesn’t depend on us.

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to experience this for the first time: A new friend in our neighborhood, described the chaotic, violent eviction of his next-door neighbor that morning – a young mother with 2 small children, with all their belongings flung out of the house – a TV and big mirror, for example, destroyed as they were thrown out on the sidewalk and street, by angry, rude men that had been hired by the house owner. They flung every belonging of the family out of the house upon the wet curb and street in the chilly, rainy weather.

The sorrow was overwhelming to me; and typically, I would have nursed the anger that arose in my heart, not knowing how to react, wanting to do something to escape the ache and hopeless feeling I was experiencing.  Rather than dealing with the sorrow, my usual thing to do would be to “change the subject” by feeding some desire for pleasure – maybe food, or turn to the internet to browse Facebook – anything to stop the emotional pain.

But instead I read a few pages of Inside Out  and I realized that I did not need to escape those feelings, that I did not have the power to do so;  but I could respond in the way that the author of Psalm 73 was led to respond to the unspeakable sadness:

“But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.”

And my application here of these words is not out of vengeful feelings and thoughts, but of the knowledge that the righteous judge of all the earth will deal with this event; and it is not even that the thought of justice so much, but I think it is the thought that I can take this sorrow and burden to Him and not feel that I am responsible for the evil that I saw through my friend’s eyes.

The sorrow still remains, but it is not a despairing, hopeless feeling, but an inexplainable hope that arises in spite of the sight of the destruction of that mother’s belongings.
Instead there is a hope that looks beyond the tragedy; that sees that the power of the gospel may allow that family to say, along with Joseph, son of Jacob, “… you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today”.

It is the law of unintended consequences that God is always using to thwart the actions of the enemy.

The point of this long story is that the Lord has worked into me a new coping mechanism of not becoming despondent over something that brings sadness to me; instead, He has shown me how to confront the sadness instead of “sweeping it under the rug” so to speak.  Maybe I have learned a little bit about using the feeling of sorrow for good, and a joy arising that is like Paul’s statement in 2 Corithians 6:10 – “…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”


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