From Pastor Ben
Welcome to a brand new week! I fell across this factoid and thought I'd share it with you. Do you know which letter appears in 11 percent of all English words? Is it the letter A or T maybe the letter O or the letter E? Make a guess and we'll see just who get it right. More tomorrow.
"Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us."
Now let's delve into this important lesson. Here, when Solomon is speaking about sorrow, he isn't talking about thoughts that lead us to depression...or is he? Remember, the best commentary to Biblical truth is itself.
In 2 Corinthians 6 & 7, Paul writes to the early church in Corinth. He warns them to leave the conduct of the unbelievers in 2 Cor. 6:17. "Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them..." Here he was talking about separating ourselves from the fleshly attitudes of the unbelieving world, such as greed, selfish ambitions, etc, and not religious ceremonial things, such as unclean foods, etc, as the Jews were prone to make their focus .
Then in 2 Cor. 7:10 he lays out the value of sorrow that leads to repentance. This sorrow then leads them to our need of cleansing and salvation. That sort of sorrow (recognizing sinfulness) leads us to recognize our heart condition, of being captivated by selfish, empty, meaningless activity. That reality then leads us to desiring a true spiritual renewal, that only God can give us.
2 Cor. 7:9 sums this up in saying, "For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing." Our loving Heavenly Father desires for us a life of richness, true fulfillment, and blessings. Rather than being caught up with the earthly, fleshly, fading happiness, He desires for us a Joy which lasts for eternity.
Many times, earthly sorrow is necessary for us to search for "heavenly riches in Christ Jesus". Moments of loss and sorrow bring out thoughts as to what truly matters. You see, the moment or even moments of happiness can't ever outweigh the lifetime of joy that following in God's path can bring. Serious inner meditations sharpen our mind in order to grapple with the great issues of life, whereas foolish frivolity wastes time and prevents people from coming to grips with what is vitally important. Serious struggles and deep thoughts enable our innermost thoughts help us to make true evaluations of purposefulness. Jesus summed this up in Mathew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
So you see, my dear one, we must choose temporary happiness or permanent joy. SO GO WITH GOD, for His ways always ultimately bring a richness to our lives. "A life without regrets."
I remember this truth from one of my deep conversations with my Uncle Ray. Once a month or so, he would invite me to spend the night after our Friday night ritual of hamburgers and A & W root beer dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We would talk late into the night, he in one bed and me in the other bed. He would reminisce over the many experiences of his and my dad's childhood adventures. Uncle Ray had many physical ailments, but in talking with him, I learned that those ailments sometimes created hardships but they brought a spiritual depth to his life. It was that depth that was the catalyst for his loving influence in my life.
Somehow, we had a bond that none of the other grandkids were blessed to enjoy. Even in the summer after I would come home from college, Uncle Ray would invite me over to one of our nights of reflection. We would talk late into the night and reflect of the goodness of God in our lives over that year. We talked of the miracles of joy that we had enjoyed over that school year. I even shared with him my dream of meeting Becky years before that moment came. We made a pact together to pray for her in those years before we had even met.
Uncle Ray would also write me to remind me to live a life of courage and honor before God. He reminded me to serve my Eternal Father with, as he would say, an "all out, regret free" life.
Just as Solomon reminds us in the same way here in this verse, serious sobriety has a refining influence on our lives. Oh laughter and joy do come together a lot, for we have much to joy in, my fellow saints...but not at the sacrifice of losing sight on eternity, which is His calling in our lives. Never forget we have so much to joy in, my dear ones.