READ: 2 Samuel 19-21, Psalm 97, Matthew 8, 1 Thessalonians 4
A good friend told me yesterday that he was unfaithful to his wife. He has not lived up to God’s will for sexual purity; he has not possessed his own vessel in honor; he has not obeyed God’s call to holiness (1 Thess. 4:3, 4, 7). We grieve with him and his family, unable to cast stones we sorrow.
The scriptures (v. 13) contain an extraordinary injunction when it comes to sorrow. We are to sorrow “as one who has hope.” I love the reality God works within. Faith never denies facts and salvation does not make us immune to sorrow. Our sin and the sin of others is incredibly painful to bear. As we stagger under the consequences of our own stupidity or are stricken by the selfishness of others, we are told to do so (to sorrow) in hope. Hope in sorrow is not glib exhortation by Jesus. Jesus has authority to call us to hope on the other side of pain because He rose from the grave after the agony of the cross. Resurrection life means there is something for us on the other side of sorrow. Sin causes anguish, yet we have this strange exhortation to writhe in hope.
Jesus took our sin upon himself. Jesus is the great sin swallower. Jesus also took our sickness upon Himself. Jesus is the great sickness swallower. If Jesus can swallow sin and sickness, He can certainly swallow our sorrow. Jesus takes our infirmities and carries them (Matt. 8:17). Jesus absorbs our sins, our sickness, our sorrow. Jesus is the sorrow swallower. When we are wounded, deeply wounded, it is foolish to tell ourselves (or be told by others) not to reel or agonize. Our only recourse is to remind ourselves that sorrow will eventually be swallowed. I won’t always hurt. My wound will scar, and the scar I will carry with me forever (Jesus had His in His glorified body), but one day my sorrow will be swallowed. Where does pain, sickness, and sorrow go when Jesus relieves us of it? My sorrow is nailed to His cross, through His hands.
The agony of sexual sin is twofold: To the betrayed spouse it is heart piercing, and sorrow descends unfathomable, save to those who have endured it. We shouldn’t say much to them; just hug them tight and pray that they may ‘sorrow in hope.’ To the betrayer we also turn in love. They have their own agony and crushing judgment, and to them lectures are no kindness. We embrace them with the same longing, that they would once more believe that God can bring life from the dead.