Why this sorrow? Why should I be called on to pass through these waves of trial and suffering? What is the cause and the meaning of the dark clouds of adversity that hang so heavily o’er me?
It may be difficult to give a satisfactory answer to the question, which, being rather of the heart than of the mind, makes it all the more perplexing. That there is an answer, thoroughly satisfactory to the soul that is subject to the good will of God, is undoubted; but it is just this natural insubjection to the hand and will and purpose of God that creates the difficulty.
Let us look, first of all, at the root of the whole matter, and discover how that, at the very origin of God’s moral dealings with man, the secret of the mystery is really disclosed to us.
Disobedience to God, at the instigation of the serpent, was punished by sorrow on the woman, and by sweat of the brow on the man, until they returned to the dust. This sentence has held good, and has never been reversed during the course of time.
Should the reason “why” be asked by either, the plain answer is found in the sentence passed on them at the beginning. It may be humbling, but it is inevitable. There is no possible escape. It has to be accepted.
It is safe, then, to affirm that disobedience to God is the secret; and that, but for sin, there would be neither sorrow nor suffering.
“By one man,” we read (Rom. 5:12), “sin entered into the world and death by sin.” And again (Rom. 8:20-22), “the creature was made subject to vanity,” and that “the whole creation (not merely man) groans and travails together in pain until now.”
Sin, with its dire concomitants of death and groans and travail, has inverted and upset the entire course of nature, and is, without doubt, the parent of every human ill; nor has the curative machinery as invented by man, his education, science, civilization, etc., accomplished any radical improvement. The sore lessons we are learning, at the close of these six thousand years, should teach us that there is a worm at the root, a poison at the fountain-head, that the genius of the physician has never succeeded in reaching nor can reach. The disease is too deep-seated; it is ineradicable. Hence nothing short of a “new creation” can avail.
Well, let all this—humbling though it be—be admitted, the deep heart-craving remains. Why all this sorrow?
Has God not power to prevent?
He surely has.
Is He not a God of love and pity for the creatures of His hand?
He is indeed! He “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” No greater proof could be given!
Does He afflict willingly?
No, He does not (Lam. 3:33).
Then why these sorrows?
May I ask, from whose hand do you take them?
You reply, “From the hand of God.”
Well, you are assured that that hand is one of love as well as power, and that, if it sees fit to chasten, it must be guided by love. Surely!
“The Lord gave,” said the patriarch, “and the Lord has taken away.” He attributed both the good and the bad, the joy and the sorrow to God, adding, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” There was no asking “why” as this avalanche of loss and bereavement was rolled in upon him. He simply and beautifully bowed in submission to God.
He had other lessons to learn in the same wonderful school, on which we need not dwell; but the absence of all question, when first the storm broke on him, is exceedingly interesting.
“I bow me to Thy ways, O God,
And all Thy ways adore;
Oh, that my great concern may be
To love and praise Thee more.”
This did Job.
You have a child whom you love better than your own soul. Yet you chasten him, and why?
For two reasons; first, if naughty I correct him; and second, if docile, I train him into my own wishes and ideas. The training does not necessarily imply opposition, but the design in it is conformity to my standard.
All perfectly intelligible; and yet no doubt the child, while undergoing this education, may sometimes say, “Why the rod, and the pain, and the tears?” He knows not the reason and longs for an answer. But you know full well, and suffer so much, when administering the rod, as he does when bearing it. “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him” (Heb. 12:5).
And why not? Why should I not resent such chastening if I am not conscious of opposition to His hand?
Mark well the reason: “For whom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6).
Ah! sorely afflicted child of God, can you take in this wonderful reason for your present sufferings? The reason is LOVE! Make the love of God the Father the key to unlock all your difficulties. His perfect love casts out fear. You are being transformed now into the image of His Son, by all that through which you are passing, and will be fully confirmed by and by in resurrection glory. The work of the sculptor is perfect.