To One Sorrowing

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

By the time this is in your hands, the first days of stunning grief will have passed. You will take up the threads of each day’s duty, while you face afresh every morning, and take home to your heart every evening, that sense of emptiness which seems almost to swallow up the things that remain.

You must face life—life with that sense of emptiness in it—life with that other life gone out of it. But, my dear child, if God is to be glorified, you must face it in such a way that the shadow lies behind, and not ahead. Your spirit must not dwell in the darkness of the grave, but in the light of heaven. You must not walk through life holding death’s icy hand, but holding to a living faith that, in the very presence of death, warms your heart with a hope that has its kindlings in the everlasting love of the unchanging Father.

Sorrows must come; we know that. We are reconciled even to the thought that to follow Jesus means a multiplying rather than a lessening of our griefs. How could it be otherwise when He was “a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3 KJV)?

It seems to me that grief is like a furnace—it either refines or destroys; like a mighty wind, it either tears up by the roots the faith of years, or, sweeping over it, leaves it strengthened and established. You must decide which it shall be. The attitude of your soul, not the storm of sorrow that sweeps over it, will determine whether you remain rooted and grounded; the spirit in your heart, not the furnace of affliction through which it passes, will determine whether you come forth as gold.

If now you turn your eyes on yourself, on your loss, on your own broken hopes, you will walk in the shadow. But if you turn your eyes away from yourself to God, you will walk in the light, leaving the shadow behind.

I cannot explain why weeping with another dries my own tears, but it does; nor why sharing another’s load should make me less conscious of my own, but it does; nor how putting out my hand to save someone else from stumbling in their sorrow keeps my foot from slipping, but it does.

Faith is the only soil in which a sorrow planted with bleeding hands and watered by bitter tears could ever spring up to blossom with new hope and joy for you, and to bring forth good fruit abundantly.

Catherine Bramwell-Booth, Messages to the Messengers

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