Zack Eswine posted helpful insights on http://theresurgence.com:
“To be cast down is often the best thing that could happen to us” (Charles Spurgeon).
It is rarely wise and often unkind to say what Spurgeon says here while someone loses their job, weeps by the graveside of a loved one, or vomits from the chemo. In such moments, sometimes nothing is the best thing said. We weep with those who weep. We mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). We pray and cry out to God on their behalf. Spurgeon’s declaration doesn’t come automatically as we know full well how sorrows can potentially affect a person negatively—it can harden, embitter, and make one cynical about God and people.
BENEFITS TO SORROW?
How then can there be benefits to sorrow? Spurgeon points us to Jesus. Jesus is called, Immanuel, God with us. He is not the God who gives us immunity from the world. Rather, he is the God who does not leave us when people, sicknesses, the weather, or devils do their worst. Spurgeon therefore makes the healing claim, “There is no remedy for sorrow beneath the sun like the sorrows of Immanuel…The sympathy of Jesus is the next most precious thing to his sacrifice.”
Jesus sympathizes with our weakness (Heb. 4:15), speaks to our sorrows, and orders them to serve his purposes. He brings them into his own counsel to promote his intentions and to reverse and thwart foul tidings (Gen. 5:20). With Jesus having authority over our sorrows in mind, Spurgeon identifies a handful of benefits recovered as Jesus walks with us through the valley.
1. SORROW TEACHES US TO RESIST TRITE VIEWS OF WHAT MATURITY IN JESUS LOOKS LIKE.
Faith is not frownless. Maturity is not painless. It is the presence of Jesus and not the absence of happiness that designates the situation and provides our hope. Spurgeon says it this way, “Depression of spirit is no index of declining grace. The very loss of joy and the absence of assurance may be accompanied by the greatest advancement in the spiritual life…We do not want rain all the days of the week and all the weeks of the year, but if the rain comes sometimes, it makes the fields fertile and the streams flow.”
2. SORROW EXPOSES AND ROOTS OUT OUR PRIDE.
Perhaps we can think of it this way. When standing at a garage sale, the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” We often mix-up what is trash and treasure to Jesus. Sorrow helps show us where we’ve been passing over treasures for trash. “We are very apt to grow too big,” Spurgeon says. “It is a good thing for us to be taken down a notch or two. We sometimes rise too high in our own estimation. Unless the Lord took away some of our joy, we should be utterly destroyed by pride.”
“It is the presence of Jesus and not the absence of happiness that designates the situation and provides our hope.”
3. SORROW PUSHES US TO TAKE AN HONEST SECOND LOOK AT OURSELVES AND OUR SITUATIONS.
Sorrow unthreads the hem of our rationalizations. Spurgeon continues, “When this downcasting comes, it gets us to work at self-examination…When your house has been made to shake, it has caused you to see whether it was founded upon a rock.”
4. SORROW IS A MEANS OF DRAWING US CLOSER TO JESUS IN TRUER DEPENDENCE.
Do you remember the cartoon with Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner? In one episode, the Coyote used a saw to cut a circular hole out from underneath Road Runner’s feet. But when the hole was completed, it wasn’t Road Runner that fell. Rather, the rest of the floor crumbled down all around and upon the Coyote while the Road Runner was left still standing upon his piece of floor.
Jesus stays put though everything else may fall around us. Strength emerges. Spurgeon says it this way, “When we were little boys and were out at evening, we would walk with our father. Sometimes we would run on a long way ahead, but every now and then, there would be a big dog loose on the road, and it is astonishing how closely we clung to our father then.”
5. SORROW TEACHES US EMPATHY FOR ONE ANOTHER.
Spurgeon says, “If we had never been in trouble ourselves, we should be very poor comforters of others…It would be no disadvantage to a surgeon if he once knew what it was to have a broken bone. You may depend upon his touch being more tender afterwords; he would not be so rough with his patients as he might have been if he had never felt such pain himself.”
Jesus shows us his wounds, the slanders, the manipulations, the injustices, the body blows, the mistreatments piled onto him. From there he loves, still (Romans 5:8). He invites us into fellowship with his empathy. We receive it from him in depth. Truly, we rise again and actually give, maybe for the first time in our lives.