This post is part of a series called Life Is. If you would like to start at the beginning, see here.
I’ve had sorrow in my life.
My dad committed suicide when I was seven; we moved away from our hometown to a new place; I’ve had friends come and go out of my life; I’ve failed a lot and caused myself to feel pain; I’ve moved away from my family and friends.
There are a lot of things that I have a “right” to be sorrowful about, to wallow in, to be bitter about. But I’m not sorrowful about them. At least, not any more.
If you read this blog way back when, you’ll know that 2012 kind of sucked for me because I kind of sucked. The Lord got a hold of me, but because of my suckage I had a lot of anxiety and guilt and, honestly, depression.
I was looking over my old posts a few minutes ago and didn’t realize just how much all of that came out in my blog posts. I mean, I made a super long post about how The Catcher in the Rye was comforting to me during that time in my life. How Holden’s anxiety and depression made me feel better. That is so backwards. Dwelling on depression is not a cure for depression; it only fuels it. I didn’t start feeling better after reading Catcher; I normalized the depressed ways I was feeling. Depression is not normal. It’s not something to be comfortable with.
That’s a bit of a digression, so I digress.
Alongside that numbness, I would also have panic attacks and feel incredibly guilty for how I hadn’t been walking with the Lord. I would dwell and dwell and dwell and dwell and dwell. I would make myself sick and, at times, tell myself that it would be better if I just died. (At this point, my mom is worrying. Hi mom. I’m fine now. You know that.)
But but but. Despite all of that sorrow and confusion and sickness, as my youth pastor always said, God has a great but.
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
In times past I fulfilled the desires of my flesh and of my mind. Although I had accepted Christ as my saviour, I pulled an Israel and returned to the things that held me in bondage. I was a child of the living God, but I was acting like a child of wrath.
He who is rich in mercy and has such a great love toward me, even when I was dead in sins, made me alive in Christ.
Dwelling on that is how I overcame the sorrow that I was so intensely feeling.
The Bible talks about that over and over again, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but when I realized that the key to overcoming my sorrow wasn’t in reading classic books or young adult fiction or blogging, it was like the biggest light bulb ever invented switched on.
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 says that godly sorrow leads to repentance and a clearing of sin and a desire, a zeal for God, whereas worldly sorrow leads to death. Godly sorrow is when we recognize our sin, come humbly and contritely to God, and then receive forgiveness and a restored relationship with our Father. Worldly sorrow dwells and receives no change, unless that change is yet more sorrow.
Psalm 77 is one of my favorite passages because it totally changed the way I view sorrow. Asaph, the man writing the Psalm, is overwhelmed by his emotions. The passage doesn’t even mention sin; Asaph is just troubled and unable to be comforted. He even begins to wonder whether the Lord is really good, whether is mercy truly is enduring forever or if his promises have failed.
Psalm 77:10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
Asaph realized that his sorrow was his infirmity, but that the way to cure that sorrow was by remembering the works of the Lord. For the rest of the Psalm, Asaph is just telling of the mighty hand of the most High and praising him for his marvelous works.
The way to overcoming sorrow isn’t by taking feeble comfort in more sorrow. It’s by taking the focus off of yourself and remembering the hand of the most High.
Life is sorrow, because we are naturally sinful, sorrowful people. But God is comfort and he has already overcome our sorrow. In John 16:33 Jesus tells us to be of good cheer because he has overcome the world. There’s no need for the sorrow of this world if we are in Christ. When we’re living in him, there’s only room for good cheer.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.