Walking with Sorrow

“But we never knew, we children, because the death of a baby is a melody played softly through its mother’s life like an intimate dirge, and you have to have died a little yourself to hear the music.” (in Nora Seton, The Kitchen Congregation)

I am learning how it feels to live with sorrow. Real sorrow. Not the shock – that goes away. Not the anger – that only masks what’s underneath. Not the desperate clutch of some passing fancy that you mistakenly call hope, but tastes much more like denial when the fruit is tried. Not the bandwagon that offers shallow answers for why tragedy occurs. True sorrow is none of these things. True sorrow does not answer any of the questions that well up in the heart of the sufferer: why me? how is this possible? when will it end?

Sorrow just is. It is a companion, a fellow pilgrim. It is the desperate ache for what might have been but is not; the cry of a heart, “This should not be and it is.” It is the burden of what was lost, or never even sought and now will never be. Sorrow is the final surrender in our bloody battle against darkness.

When Josh and I took our kiddos to Hillside cemetery a few weeks ago it took me a minute to get out of the car. The grave is only feet from the road and I could see it from my seat. I had been full of tears all day – for days before – feeling the terrible memories come sweeping over me like a flood. And beneath the tears was a new kind of reality. Sorrow doesn’t always manifest in tears. I sat in the van, looking over at the most precious plot of earth in this wide world, and I felt my companion nuzzle in close to my heart. “I’m here,” Sorrow said. “I have never left and you are only beginning to learn what it is like to walk with me.”

I have two beautiful children who are beautifully alive. They are also born from sorrow – mothers who could not care for them. Their hearts broke to surrender a child whose blood was their blood. You can talk about the beauty of adoption and you would be right. And adoption comes from sorrow. It always has and always will.

But the truth is it takes courage to face Sorrow. Courage to open one’s heart to the Sorrow that is Reality.

A few months ago I stumbled upon a book that has left a permanent mark. Anne Rice’s story, told from the perspective of Christ, tracing his first adult years and leading up to His first public miracle at Cana. When I reached his temptation in the desert the tears started flowing.

“…this is not my prison. This is my Will. This is your Will…And I will go down, down with every single one of them into the depths of Sheol, into the private darkness…I will be with them, every single solitary one of them. I am one of them! And I am your Son. I am your only begotten Son. And driven here by your Spirit, I cry because I cannot do anything but grasp it, grasp it as I cannot contain it in this flesh-and-blood mind, and by your leave I cry…I am alone. I am absolutely alone because I am the only one that can do this. What judgment can there ever be for man, woman, child – if I am not there for every heartbeat at every depth of their torment?”

Has there ever been Courage like it lived in Jesus? This Savior and Lion of a man. Courage to receive Sorrow – to welcome it – to live with it – to walk with it. Christ was and is the Sorrow of God personified.

If I want Jesus to walk with me I must welcome Sorrow as well. Without blame and bitterness. It’s the only way. And the tears that come from walking with Sorrow are stored up, each one counted and each one precious to the One who feels it too.


This entry was posted in Adoption, Ebenezer and Hannah, Suffering, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Walking with Sorrow

  1. Sarah says:

    Oh my dear friend… I love you dearly and as a sister. Your writing brings tears to my eyes and fills me with sorrow. I know some day the sorrow will end and we will know true love and happiness, until then all we can do is love Jesus and keep our faith in Him.

  2. Catthryn flowers Ritchie says:

    Recently heard the last sermon in a series entitled, Suffering, by R C Sproul, Jr. His wife has been in heaven for a bit. He postulates that the rivers in heaven are the tears of the saints. Maybe. A friend just died yesterday. These were are helpful. Yes, sorrow has many faces. This is when being a Christian comforts my heart more deeply and sweetly than any other experience. Death Has Ended!

  3. Janna says:

    Amen, sister. Love you so much.

  4. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing the long term feelings of sorrow. And like I have heard a few people say, all adoption comes from loss.

  5. Laura Stiles says:

    That sorrow has not left you is understandable; that you’re endeavoring to welcome it .. wow. You are so lovely. Cyber hugs to you and something to wonder about ..
    2 Corinthians 12:1–7
    Paul’s Visions and His Thorn
    1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man yin Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, bGod knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, eI would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

  6. Marla Helseth says:

    Yes, sorrow just is, as you say. Thank you for your writing. It has made me think of sorrow as a companion. And I don’t think it’s a companion we need to try to be rid of necessarily. The heart hurts and is weighed down when Sorrow shows up, but in one sense, I don’t want this companion gone forever. It helps me remember our son and the all the painful details of the loss, and it helps me during Easter to more closely feel the sadness and darkness and pain of Jesus’ obedience. So I guess, in a way, we can thank God for sorrow. Just as we can thank him for other kinds of pain – maybe they all are working for us a more eternal weight of glory.

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