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What Sorrow Finds

When I hear Fernando Ortega sing, “The sky is raining tears tonight my brother … The moon has covered up her eyes my sister …” I can’t help thinking of September 11th.  It was a day of terror and tragedy.  It would have been entirely appropriate for the sky to rain down tears and for the moon to hide its face.    
In July of 2002, as I was thumbing through a publication for Christian bookstores, I came across an article that said only about 25% of the U.S. population still wanted to think about September 11th.  Sales of books on the subject had supposedly reached their peak.  The majority of people were ready to get on with their lives.  Though this is commendable, I wonder if we lost something by trying to get back to “normal” so quickly.
Events like September 11th put us in touch with a fundamental reality of our existence. Though we would never wish for them to happen, they highlight in a horrific way that life is tragic.  Scottish minister Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) explains, “The basis of human life is tragedy.  It is difficult to realize this until one gets through the experiences that are on the surface of life, and we discover we are built with a bigger capacity for pain than for joy, that the undertone of all our life is sorrow, and the great expression and revelation of God in the world is the revelation of the cross, not of joy.”  If life then is tragic, why is it so?
In a word, it’s because of sin!  If we believe the account in the book of Genesis, we must acknowledge that prior to Adam and Eve’s disobedience; there was no death or any of the other maladies we associate with this life.  Before sin entered the world, they enjoyed uninterrupted communion with God in a paradise on earth.  
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul makes it clear that death is a consequence of sin.  “Sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin” (Romans 5:12a Amplified).  When Adam sinned, life became tragic!  From one act of disobedience flowed all of the terrible and painful events this world has ever known.
It’s not as though God just left us alone once this happened.  God made our tragedy His own through the cross of Christ.  Through this tragic event God made it clear for all time that He is with us.  Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23 NASB).  We are not abandoned. 
At the cross Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the whole world.  He paid the price for us and in so doing took the sting out of death and all that is a part of it.  Through Him we can now experience a reality that transcends tragedy—a relationship with God that will last forever.  He gives us new life—a life that continues beyond the grave.  Its home is in heaven where it will never again know any of the sorrows of this life. 
Too much of the time we are caught in a whirlwind of activity that barely gives us time to think about these things.  Though it may have been short-lived, September 11th may have caused much of the civilized world to stop and reflect on what really matters. 
Again as Fernando Ortega sings, “It takes the rain between the lines to know what sorrow finds.”   It’s through tragedy that we discover that sorrow is a better teacher than levity.  The “Preacher” tells us that “sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us” (Ecclesiastes 7:3 NLT).  C. H. Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers of all time, had a similar testimony: “I am afraid that all the grace I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours might almost lie on a penny.  But the good that I have received from my sorrows and pains and griefs is altogether incalculable.  What do I not owe to the hammer and the anvil, the fire and the file?  Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house.” 
“Sometimes it takes a storm to really know the light.”  The Scriptures teach that a sorrow that causes us to embrace what Christ has done for us leads to life.  “For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death” (2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT).  
“I was just passing through and taken by surprise / between the black sky and the blue / I love you.”  Tragedy often takes us by surprise.  It often is the beginning of a painful journey.  It’s a precious thing when you can look up and say, I love you and mean it when your sky is dark or a dreary gray.  “Between the black sky and the blue,” we learn what sorrow has to teach us.

The title of this article and the words in italics are taken from Storm by Fernando Ortega. You can contact me with any comments at



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