Monday, March 31, 2014

Sorrow's Influence

“Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
    After all, everyone dies—
    so the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,

    for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death,
    while a fool thinks only about having a good time.” 

Ecclessiastes 7:2-4, NLT

Party or funeral:  Which one would you rather be at?  Of course the party.  Oh wait, but where does the verse say it’s better to be?  Answer:  The funeral

“Sorrow is better than laughter.”  Hmmm.

Sorrow is defined as distress caused by loss, affliction, grief…

Parents of special needs kids know all too well about sorrow.    
It’s not just the loss of a life, which is a real possibility for some of our special needs kids. 
It’s the loss of their hopes and dreams. 
It’s grieving for them even before they know that they will never be able to……
It’s grieving that they have to endure this pain and affliction for years to come or maybe even a lifetime. 
How can this sorrow possibly be better than laughter?  
I thought laughter was good.  
Of course it is.  That’s not up for dispute. 

So, what about sorrow?  Why is it better? 

It’s that refining influence. 
Think of the times in your life when you grew the most and got the closest to God. 
Weren’t they those deeply sorrowful times? 
I know they were for me. 

We hear things like:  Life's short.  Tell people you love them.  Enjoy life.  Don't forget to stop and smell the roses along the way.  

Yet, we get caught up with doing lots of things and our relationship with God and others tends to suffer.  It doesn't really hit us until it HITS us personally.  When it hits us it hits us hard.  That diagnosis, unemployment, loss of life, betrayal, emotional pain, physical suffering, and the list goes on.  But what if sorrow does something more?

What if sorrow helps you feel joy more?
What if sorrow makes the laughter all the more meaningful?
What if sorrow helps you appreciate all of those little victories along the way?
What if sorrow puts everything important in life into perspective?
What if it takes sorrow in order to really live life, enjoy life, and appreciate life?

Think about those what ifs and I believe you will come to the same conclusion.
Would you feel joy as deeply if you didn't have that child with Downs Syndrome and see that joy on their face?
Would you be able to laugh at yourself so easily if your child didn't have the condition that put you in uncomfortable situations so often that you really don't care what people think anymore?
Would you appreciate those little victories that take months for your sensory sensitive child to be able to deal with when another child can just "deal with it" almost instantly?
Would you really feel what you feel, live life with the uncertainty of tomorrow, and really appreciate life if you didn't have that special needs child?

I contend that sorrow puts the rest of life into perspective.  You enjoy life more fully, live more deeply, and are even able to laugh at yourself.  Having a special needs child brings much sorrow, but it brings even greater joy.

The last verse brings it home when it talks about death.  Note that it says the wise think about death more. Well of course they do.  For many of these kids it's a real possibility at any moment.  Thinking about having a good time isn't really on the wise person's mind.  They just live life, so the good times just happen. 

PRAY:  Lord, even though there's been much sorrow in my life, I thank you for showing me how to live a life of purpose for you.  Thank you for giving me much to be joyful and thankful for.  Thank you for refining me to reflect more of you and less of me.  Lastly, help me, especially when all I see is sorrow.  

Ann Gapinski

Image from:  By moggara12 image ID: 100156537

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