As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing

April 13, 2006

Sorrow was very cute, charming and sweet!  Her beauty was of the moonlight, shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green grass below.  When sorrow sang her voice was like a sweet song of the Nightingale at dawn and in her eyes there was a sensitive yarning gaze of one who has ceased to look for the coming gladness.  She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her.

Joy was beautiful too, but his beauty was like the radiant summer morning.  His eyes filled with laughter and his hair had the glint of sunshine’s kiss.  His voice soared upwards to heaven like the lark’s.  His steps were of the conqueror who has never known defeat.  He could rejoice with all who rejoice but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him.

“We can never be united” said Sorrow mournfully.  “No, never” Joy turned away with a smile.  “My path lies through the sunlit meadows.  The sweetest roses bloom for my gathering and the peacocks await for my coming to pour forth the beautiful colours on the rainbows for their wishful dance.  The golden sunrays aloft shower my graces on mankind for a pleasant soothing day on every sunrise and sunset……”

“My path” said Sorrow turning away slowly “leads through the darkening woods.  Only the moon flowers are my great comfort of my heart.  But the sweetest song of all the earthly songs, the love song of the night, shall be mine……”

No sooner they spoke out their differences, they became aware of a kingly presence in front of them wearing a red robe around Him and a crown on His head.  Then suddenly a great holy compassionate awe struck over them as they bowed down on their knees before the king of kings, “The Risen Lord Jesus”.

“I see Him as a King of Joy” whispered Sorrow.  “For on His head there is a crown of triumphant and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scares of a great victory.  Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into an everlasting love and gladness.  I give myself to Him forever.”

“But I see Him as the King of Sorrow” said Joy softly.  “Crown on His head is a crown of thorns and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scares of great agony.  I too surrender myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy that I have known.”

“Then we are one in Him” they cried in gladness.  “For, none other but Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, can unite Joy and Sorrow.”

Hand in hand they walked into the world to follow Lord Jesus, in sunshine and showers, in the cold winters and the warm summers, in gladness and sadness, “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”  (Bible - II Corinthians 6:10)


 “Why God Why?”

“As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” is a beautiful and very meaningful quotation in the Bible.  But when we confront suffering during our life time and find ourselves in painful circumstances, our first response will be “Why God Why?  Why it’s for me?”  There is nothing so bitter in this world as bitterness of suffering alone.  Tragedy can strive anytime against us and sorrow can strike us any moment otherwise in a happy and comfortable family.  Young people die in road and air accidents.  Incurable deceases come upon us leaving us in despair amid the wrecks of hopes and we keep asking the question inconsolably why did our loved one depart from this world?  Why do we have to deserve so much pain and grief that sorrow may just creep into our life and so suddenly empty our home…?

Sorrow makes deep scars; it writes its records ineffaceably on the heart that suffers.   Even though modern technology has contributed immensely towards making one’s life more comfortable, it has not succeeded in making him happy and immortal.  Old age and death are unavoidable.  So also our miseries are brought through natural calamites like earthquakes, cyclones, floods, avalanches, hurricanes, and tornadoes etc., which cause heavy damage to human life. Tsunamis giant killer waves that brought on a very tragic catastrophe in Asia on the second day of Christmas in 2004 is the worst of its kind in almost a century which has wiped out some of the tiny islands and the villages on the coastal shores around the Indian ocean in a fraction of time….bringing the death toll more than 200,000 leaving thousands missing and millions without food, water, clothing and shelter. 

Apart from these multiple tragedies of destruction ravaged upon us repeatedly by the wrath of Mother Nature, we experience in our personal life also the very sensitive, often unbearable and fatal bereavements and drudgery that drag their weary ways through long and monotonous years in life.  The Handicapped whether retarded, disabled, blind, deaf or dumb and their families experience immense, never ending mental and psychological suffocation of sufferings.    Loneliness, emptiness and being deserted by loved ones are the deep wounds of greatest pain, pangs and suffering.  No human being can escape suffering in this world as suffering is inevitable.

A part of the suffering in this world occurs as a direct consequence of man exercising his free will to choose evil like war, violence, murders, rapes and the like.  Some deceases are also partly a result of human choice for pleasure of consuming without limit the alcohol and tobacco, wrong food habits, drugs, stress and environmental imbalances in the nature due to pollution.  The epidemic like AIDS and venereal deceases are largely a consequence of sexual choice. The cause for such sufferings is our own selfishness, negligence, ignorance, lack of foresight and freewill.   

Poverty and hunger are the most painful faces of sufferings.  The Pulitzer Price winning photo taken by Kevin Carter in 1994 during the famine in one of the African countries depicts a famine stricken child without food for days crawling slowly towards an United Nations Food Camp located a kilometre away and a vulture behind is waiting for the child to die so that it can eat it….!  This Photo has shocked the whole world and no one knows the fate of the child whether the child was rescued or simply snatched away by the cruel hands of death!  It is really heart-breaking to watch the documentary films on television which are often displayed on poverty and hunger and we see people sometimes desperately searching for food in the garbage dump so that they can survive for one more day! 

In the poor countries when the rich people throw a delicious banquet in a beautifully decorated hall for hundred guests, another hundred hungry mouths are waiting outside to get the wasted food fall on their stretched out open palms…!   “When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her.  It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed” (Mother Teresa).  Whenever we break our bread, let us feel in our heart the responsibility to share it with those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger.  “May God make us worthy to give through our hands, this day their daily bread and by our understanding and love to comfort them with peace and joy!” (Mother Teresa)

God allows the predator and prey to occupy the same living space. So also when a natural catastrophe strikes us, it will sweep out sometimes the entire generation where it occurs, the rich and the poor, men, women and children, the young and the old, the good and the bad without any concessions.  Only those who are under God’s mercy and choice will have a chance to survive and we will never grasp why God who is just, so merciful, so good, so loving and compassionate allows it to happen that way….! He has retained it under His wisdom, power and Control.  God created heaven and earth, darkness and light, so also joy and pain.  He is the potter moulding the clay according to His will, designs and tastes and our wisdom lies accepting it without debate.  Our sufferings are not outside the bounds of God’s sovereignty.  God understands human suffering intimately and He knows the end from the beginning.  In His wisdom He has let it happen.  But “Why” is a mystery which we simply do not know.

God allowed his only begotten son, Lord Jesus Christ, to suffer the worst this world has to offer: rejection, humiliation and a very painful death on the cross.  When the humiliation and the physical suffering were so extreme and unbearable, Lord Jesus cried on the cross with a loud voice saying: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Bible-Mathew 27-46).  But there was only darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour when Lord Jesus cried again and said: “Father, into Your Hands I commend my spirit” (Bible-Luke 23-46).  He bowed His head and died on the cross….!   It was a complete surrender and submission to the will of our Heavenly Father and through the cross Lord Jesus Christ not only defeated sin and suffering but also conquered over death by His resurrection.

Our faith is to believe and to trust God even when the whole concept of suffering is beyond our knowledge and understanding.  Faith is not merely the expectation that God will deliver us from suffering although often He graciously does.  But real faith is commitment to God whether he delivers or not.  The book of Job which is a part of the Bible says that during Job’s struggles God gave him no answer or reason for his suffering.  It remained all the way a mystery.  But Job was left with a far deeper understanding when he humbly bowed down to God and said: “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you….!” (Bible – Job-42-5)  The sweetest joys in life are the fruits of sorrow!   Let this be our comfort as we surrender to the will of God when sorrow strikes us and our eyes shall see His justice, infinite mercy and love.

Happy Easter to all of you.  May the Risen Lord Jesus Christ bless us all and  also those who this day possess less or nothing at all may also be filled with all the beautiful things of His creation in this world as we have been!

Evelyn & Michael Machado - Archives

By Evelyn & Michael Machado, Germany
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