Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sinful Sorrow

Right after my husband and I got engaged, I went through a really rough patch.  My heart was hurting immensely over the loss of a very good friend.  Though both parties had been wrong, it was devastating to me that whatever happened couldn't be fixed.  It affected my entire being.  Justin and I were only engaged for 5 months before our wedding...but even after that there were still many nights I cried myself to sleep or days he would get home from work and I would just be lying on the couch where he left me that morning because I was too broken to get up and do anything.  I let my sorrow control my life in a very negative way.  I missed out on the blessings around me because I let my sorrow invade every inch of me.  Don't get me wrong, there were many days when Justin didn't understand and he became very frustrated.  But I treasured those moments that he would hold me close while I cried or when he would be angry for me - he was hurting because I was hurting.

1 Samuel 1:8 - Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad?  Am I not better to you than ten sons?"

You see, the Lord had closed Hannah's womb (vs. 5).  She desperately wanted a child and was completely unable.  On top of that, Elkanah's other wife taunted her over the matter, just to irritate her (vs. 6).  

I have not yet had the experience of trying for a child, but I know many women that have.  And I know a few who tried for years with no success - I have seen the pain and sorrow.  I truly believe it is one of the most difficult burdens to bear in our world, a world where abortions are the norm and thousands, probably millions, of children are not taken care of properly and are only around because they bring their parents an extra check each month.

It would be so easy for anyone in this situation, for Hannah, to let the sorrow overwhelm her and become a sin.  Yes, I said a sin - "Our sorrow upon any account is sinful and inordinate when it diverts us from our duty to God....when it makes us unthankful for the mercies we enjoy and distrustful of the goodness of God...when it casts a damp upon our joy in Christ..." (Henry).  Any time we let anything get in the way of our relationship with God, our reliance on Him, and our duty to Him...it is a sin.

Elkanah saw that this was happening with Hannah and he gently came to her side.  He was hurting, if for no other reason, because she was - "Those that by marriage are made one flesh ought thus far to be of one spirit too, to share in each other's troubles so that one cannot be easy while the other is uneasy."  Yet, he still let her know that she had other things to be thankful for (his love for her, which was very favorable, vs. 5).  The next verse even goes onto say that she ate and drank!  Elkanah must have talked some sense into her!

I look back now and I know that my hurt, my anguish became sinful.  I let it interfere with my duty to serve God to my fullest and I became unthankful for the wonderful husband God had JUST placed in my life.  While Justin did hurt for and with me, there were many times when he told me I was being ridiculous.  He was constantly reminding me to live in the present and not the past.  Because of his encouragement and the encouragement of many others I was able to overcome my overwhelming sorrow.

And, if you don't already know, the story ends well for Hannah too.  She finally turns to the Lord in her desperation (vs. 10-17) and He answers her prayers with the birth of her son, Samuel (vs. 20).

I'm not saying that being sad is a sin, it only becomes a sin when you let that sorrow consume your life and interfere with the relationship between you and God.  I challenge you today to remember this the next time you are faced with overwhelming sorrow.  Give those sorrows to Him that He may comfort you and bring you joy when it seems impossible.  If you are in the midst of a sorrow so deep you can't see the light of day, tell someone.  We are created for community - do not travel this road alone.  God has given us people to help us through the dark places.  And always remember that your spouse is one of those people!  Lean on your spouse for support - they should hurt with you AND be able to tell you when enough is enough, just like Elkanah.

...Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning - Psalm 30:5

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