October 5, 2011

Sad Faces Yield Full Hearts

It has not escaped my attention that the Bible affirms mourning and grieving over joy and celebration. In the believer’s punch list of behaviors, James 4:9 includes, “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.”

Ecclesiastes 7:1-3 expounds a similar sentiment, “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death [better] than the day of one's birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.”

It takes a lot of counter-productive efforts to conform a natural heart into a hard heart; hence the advice to ‘let’ mourning come upon us. Do not reject or despise it. Do not guard against it. There are greater penalties for hardening your heart beyond the prevention of pain. To be in a state of grief is to be in a vulnerable and sensitive condition. When we are sensitive, we are pliable. When the walls are down, we are more approachable and receptive to supernatural intervention. On the contrary, a hard, insensitive, grief-less heart is impenetrable to the Holy Spirit.

Laughter is a momentary lift, a fleeting delight, but the intimacy experienced through communing with our Creator in times of sadness affects the countenance of the heart for the better in the long-term. Sadness leaves a permanent thumbprint behind, a thumbprint from fellowship with Great Love.

In my experience, the times I have been most sensitive to God’s tug or whisper were times when I walked in the valley, lonely or afraid, looking for Him to keep me company. Distractions were few because sadness was prominent. God’s presence was easy to perceive.

Yet times when I distanced myself from Him and hardened my heart, I cared for nothing and I shunned His approach. When the search for gratification was my driving ambition, God was an interference to my agenda. During those times my emotional state wasn’t overly sad or overly happy. I was callous and numb.

If mourning is ‘better’ than not mourning, then why are there no tears in Heaven? (Revelation 21:4)

The heart while on the earth is in an evolving state, constantly undergoing reconstruction, but the heart in Heaven is fully evolved and flawless. No imperfections remain to be ‘bettered’, no objective remains for the mourning process; therefore, mourning will be banished. No tears, only full, perfect hearts shall be our inheritance.

Sadness and suffering are irrevocably entwined with restlessness. I believe God desires our restlessness with basic, primal, flesh-based living. Yearning , seeking, and discovering Him are why life sentences on earth are intended.

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” Romans 8:20-21

We despise frustration. We do not choose it. But God chooses it for us. He chose it for Jesus. He subjects us to it - - that He might in that subjection partner our longing for relief with a ravenous hope of redemption. This plague of inherent yearning will not go unfulfilled. Its end guarantee is LIBERATION! Liberation from bondage to death and decay replaced with immense freedom and GLORY!

“Though he [God] brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.” Lamentations 3:32-34

If God does not willingly bring affliction, and yet He consents to it anyway, then only for the rich end product of that affliction does He allow it. There is a downpour of divine compassion distributed with every affliction. And if He allows it, then He oversees. Pain, like a pulley, draws God nearer than ever.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” Psalm 34:18-19

I have a Lord, who in divine perfection, ordained my suffering and my restlessness in this life that I might aspire for more – more than this present reality, more than this era, more than this temporal experience.

His purposes are . . . Deliverance (Psalm 34:19), Liberation (Romans 8:21), and Freedom (Romans 8:21). All of these demonstrations point to His grandeur and mercy. At the conclusion, a sad face gives birth to a full, vibrant heart which is confident in the source of all Glory.

Isaiah 48:10-11 says, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”

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