This verse provided both fascination and comfort to me as a young person — fascination because of it’s apparent contradiction and comfort because I had my share of sorrow.
Even if I couldn’t grasp it’s full meaning, it offered hope that sorrow does have purpose — that our sorrow is not in vain. Furthermore, not only did sorrow appear to be purposeful, but it promised to make me better somehow.
The world teaches that sorrow is best avoided. If you see it approaching, run in the other direction. Cross the street. Hide. Do whatever you need to do to escape.
Open your eyes and you will see countless ways people attempt to escape sorrow: drugging, drinking, shopping, eating, relationship jumping, church jumping, busyness, working, pornography, extra marital affairs, cutting — to name only a few.
We live in a world brimming with pain escape artists. While skillful maneuvering may satisfy a deeply-felt need, it’s only for a time. It’s always temporary. And it’s always counterfeit.
The truth is, our means of escape are illusions. When the party is over, we find ourselves right back where we started. Well, that’s not entirely true. We actually find that we have sunk to new depths.
In our attempts to escape sorrow and suffering we create greater pain and suffering.
Talk about your contradictions.
We pay a high price for our escapery* — too high.
Every time we escape into coping mechanisms of our own making, we pay with our life.
What if we choose to believe that sorrow serves a purpose our natural eyes cannot see?
What if we choose to believe that sorrow is a means by which God draws us into deeper relationship with Himself?
What if we understand sorrow as His invitation to cast our burden on Him and allow Him to sustain us?
God’s ways often run counter to our natural impulses and understanding.
If the natural impulse is to escape into a temporary fix, purpose to be still and cry out to Him. Dare to trust that God is who He says He is, that we are who He says we are and that He will do what He promises He will do.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
*Not a real word as far as I know, but I like it and think that it should be.