It is a hard thing to experience sorrow. But the Bible is pretty clear that sorrow affects us all. Among other things, conflicts, depressions, longings, and mornings can bring on sorrows and people are usually at the heart of our sorrows. Hardly has a zucchini caused us true sorrows. I suppose a spoiled crop or a tasteless dish could bring us worldly sorrows of sorts but they’re usually conflicts, fears, and loves lost that cut the deepest.
Sins can also produce sorrows. Suppose you’re live in such a way that dishonors God. In such cases do you suppose God sits by un-affected and takes His humiliation while you continually slap his face?
So here comes the question, does God make you suffer in your sin? Well, my answer might surprise you unless you’re familiar with the two books by Paul written to the Corinthians.
I’ll quickly sum up what our culture thinks to be cruel. God often does sends affliction and suffering! It can come by temporary affliction, or even something quite humbling like hearing from friend that you had better shape up. There is an example of this idea in Corinthians. A man sinned, but worse yet he remained in that sin unchallenged. When Paul learned this he sent his letter to the Church. He taught the Church that without repentance the church is to forsake even the presence of that brother until he get his act together. Sounds pretty harsh right? Kick the guy out of the church because he’s living publically in sin? That’s judgmental right? Are you surprised that not many churches follow this rule today? Well, before you blast the scriptures and God, stories like these don’t always end with judgment, but with repentance. True, for those who hold on to their sin their judgment is certainly banishment, death, and gnashing of teeth. But for those who repent sorrow turns into rejoicing. It’s the redemption story that our current culture has forgotten and the point made in the teaching. Don’t only focus on judgements, judgements with purpose have their place.
So it is possible that these sorrowful judgments, along with loving kindness, may, with God’s help, make someone sorrowful even to the point of repentance. So sorrow can be a tool. Yep, sorrows can be a loving gift from God. In the Corinthian example, “you were made sorrowful so that you might suffer loss, but only to the point of repentance, and the according to the will of God.” You can read the account for yourselves in Corinthians, specifically 1 Corinthians chapter 5 and 2 Corinthians chapter 7.
Remember the point of these judgements is repentance and comfort. A changed heart, and a different direction is the goal – well kinda. It is not repentance alone that lead us to a “salvation without regret”, but there is definitely a Godly sorrow that “avenges in this life the wrong in us.” This judgment acknowledges that there is a price to be paid for sin and Christ paid the price for our sins.
Here we realize the benefits of judgements, that godly repentence comforts our sorrows and our faith in Christ brings peace.
In Paul’s case his letter confronting the mans indiscretion likewise caused sorrow to fall upon himself. Yet it was his duty to confront the sin in the Corinthian church. You likewise may also rejoice when your friend is made sorrowful to the point of repentance. You could also examine your own sorrow. Is God causing your sorrow to bring attention to one particular sin in your life? Avoiding the subject of sin will not help you, sorrows can.
In the end we must accept that faith in Jesus Christ does not keep you from God’s instructive discipline. And should you wander it is also a comfort to know that sorrows can be the device God uses to bring you to repentance. In other words, when bad things happen it may indeed be God. And your friend may be the trouble God uses to inspire you to faith. What a great God we serve, he sends us both love and troubles. He leads us to eternal comfort and joy. Amen