When the laugh track in life rings hollow

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Are you sad today? I am not talking about the kind of sad you feel when your burn your toast or when your favorite sports team loses. The sad that to which I refer is that deep sorrow of loss or disappointment that sets in like a persistent fog. In a conversation yesterday, a man shared the sadness he felt for his 37 year-old son who is an addict slowly killing himself by inches. His sorrow went deep! When I think about Bev, my late wife, there is a persistent sadness. It colors just about everything in my life, even after 3 years.

If we talked today, would you tell me of sorrow, too? Perhaps it is your own – or maybe it is that of those with whom you walk in this world. Frequently the response to the sorrowful is a good ole’ pat on the back and a jolly, “Cheer up!”  The Proverb reminds us just how unhelpful that can be. “Singing cheerful songs to a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing someone’s jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in a wound.” (Proverbs 25:20, NLT)

Our world is a broken place.  I hasten to acknowledge that there are many blessings, too. If you are living in a season of joy and abundance, then sing your praise and joyfully thank God. But, let’s always remember those who suffer. Compassion is a gift – both to the one who is sad and to the giver. When we willingly enter into the experience of another, sharing their sorrow, we are like Jesus.

Our Savior, sent with a message hope and healing to those who are captives of the Evil One, let Himself be moved, felt deeply, and sacrificed to make life better for the broken. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. … Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” (Isaiah 53:3-4, NIV)  His work is our work. Like Him, I want to let my heart be broken by the human need that is real.

Whether it is our own sorrow or that of another, we must meet it with faith. We are reminded that God knows and cares. He is not far removed, a cruel Being without heart. When he was a refugee, pursued by a murderous king, David sang this – “My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. … Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. … The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, NIV)  It was not just poetry. He was filled with hopeful faith!

When Peter failed Jesus miserably on the night of His trial, he wept bitterly. Later, he went back to Galilee to fish, a broken man filled with regret and sorrow. God did not abandon him there. John records a beautiful scene in which the Resurrected Lord found Peter, served him breakfast on the beach, and spoke words of forgiveness and restoration.

He broke Peter’s despair and commissioned him to a life of service in God’s kingdom!  Later on, Peter wrote to us “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. … And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11, NIV)

We need never deny the reality of our sorrow. But, we are not engulfed hopelessly in it, either. Let’s engage ourselves with suffering while we do the work of Jesus. All the while, we can be sustained by this wonderful promise, our word from the Word  – “. . . they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:15-17, NLT)  Oh, Happy Day!

____________________

Jesus! What a friend for sinners!
Jesus lover of my soul!
Friends may fail me, foes assail me;
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

 Hallelujah what a Savior.
Hallelujah what a Friend.
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! What a strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him;
Tempted tried and sometimes failing,
He, my strength my victory wins.

 Jesus! What a help in sorrow!
While the billows o’er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort helps my soul.

 Hallelujah what a Savior.
Hallelujah what a Friend.
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Our Great Savior- J. Wilbur Chapman © Public Doma

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