A Mile With Sorrow and Joy

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A Mile With Sorrow and Joy

“I walked a mile with Pleasure; She chatted all the way; But left me none the wiser For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow; And ne’er a word said she; But, oh! The things I learned from her, When Sorrow walked with me.”

-Robert Browning Hamilton

If you’ve ever experienced pain and suffering, and you have, then you know the truth in this poem. During times of pleasure, ease and convenience, we don’t cling to the hand of the Heavenly Father and breathe Him in and out just to survive a moment. When our lives are predictable and fine, we forget our insufficiency without Christ. We may even start to think that by some merit of our own, we have created this Shangri La we are living in, but that’s a fantasy as well. Pain ebbs and suffering flows. When we are unsure of our next moment, our next move or our next meal, we see so clearly the hand of God in our lives. When we are hungry for His presence, we are satisfied by His love. When we think of our parenting, often much of our effort surrounds working to mitigate pain, suffering, difficulty and trials for our kids. It’s that universal feeling that we want our kids to have it better than we did, even if we had it pretty good. The truth is, though, that we run the risk of cheating our kids out of a lot of growth, learning and joy when we try to shield them from suffering. How our kids see us act during times of trial can be one of the greatest legacies that we grant them.  Our kids are watching us closely to see what spills out when we get poked.  They have a keen ability to cut through what we say and see who we really are.  Let them see you hit your knees in uncertainty and wear the pages of your Bible thin even in your doubt.

 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

The commandment is to “consider it pure joy.”  Not that we ought to “feel” joy during trial and tragedy. No, it says to “consider it,” which sounds, to me, like a mental discipline. We must choose joy, not because of our suffering, but in spite of it…through it. Sometimes our circumstances are a consequence of our own choices. Sometimes they are the consequence of someone else’s choices. Sometimes, like when innocent life is lost, or good people lose everything, or when righteous deeds are met with injustice, we wonder how these things could possibly be for our good. I admit, I don’t have that answer and the Bible doesn’t offer up a quick fix either. I give you only this quote as the best I can come up with for why we suffer:

“God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows”― Timothy Keller

Take joy, friends. Write it on your hearts. Talk of it to your children and your friends. Allow Sorrow to teach you well. Walk miles with her, but bring Joy. You will need it along the way.    

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