The Burden of Sorrow

By John Philip, 1888

The 'brotherhood of sorrow' is a guild that comprehends all the human race. Who has not wept? What human heart is there but has sometimes been torn with sorrow? What bodily frame is there but has sometimes quivered with pain? No doubt some have a far larger share of sorrow than others. Even God's own children may be corrected when others are let alone. He loves them too well not to correct them. "Whom the Lord loves, He corrects and scourges every son whom He receives." Sonship is not incompatible with scourging but may rather be attested and approved thereby. Yet sometimes it is not easy to spell L-O-V-E out of trials. It may be true of God's children, as aforetime, "Now for a season, if need be you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."

The multiplicity of our relations in life makes us a broader mark for the shafts of sorrow. The more tender our sensibilities, the warmer our affections, and the more nearly and closely we touch one another the oftener and more deeply may our hearts be made to bleed!

And how often when trouble comes does it seem to double itself! Our bodily and mental troubles, our personal afflictions and relative bereavements, our private and public misfortunes especially when they come together, like two seas meeting sometimes make the burden of sorrow, a very heavy one! We may feel at such times, as if it were heavier than we could bear.

Especially so, when it seems as if we must bear the weight all alone. Human sympathy, when sincere, is very sweet 'tis like an oasis in the desert. Yet it is often very powerless to relieve. It may soothe and yet not be able to sustain. It may bend over us with yearning pity and yet be utterly unable to lift off our load! There are times when we are made to feel how far removed we are beyond the power of human sympathy and when we realize a terrible isolation and solitariness in our sorrow. Perhaps in our anguish we are ready to cry, "I look for someone to come and help me but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me!" Nevertheless, at such times we may be able to add; "I cried unto You, Lord. You are my refuge and my portion in the land of the living."

Blessed be God, there is a great Sorrow-bearer as well as a sin- bearer. He who bore our sins also carried our infirmities. Jesus Christ was indeed "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," and His sinlessness does not impair but perfects His sympathy; for sin blunts sensibility and deadens feeling! His sympathy is indeed exquisitely tender as it is thoroughly human; and yet it is all-powerful for it is Divine! We see the tenderness of His human sympathy, on His way to the grave of Lazarus, for "Jesus wept!" And we see also the divinity of His power when He cried, "Lazarus, come forth!"

It is a great relief to a sorrow-burdened heart, to vent its sorrow in the presence of another person who is possessed of a large, loving, and sympathizing heart even when he can do little or nothing to help. Then how much more comfort would it be to spread out our sorrow before Him whose pity is equaled by His power, who is both infinitely able and willing to do exceeding abundantly for us, above what we ask or think! If Jesus does not see fit to remove the burden yet He can render our strength equal to bear it. If the thorn is not taken away yet the promise may be made good, "My grace is sufficient for you; for My strength is made perfect in weakness!"

How often has it been proved, that the sorrow that has broken the heart has but cleft a way for the entrance of that Word that gives light. The farther down the ploughshare of sorrow has gone, and the deeper the furrows made in the heart the more deeply embedded has been the precious seed, and the more abundant the future harvest. "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy!"