God can turn our sorrow into songs of joy

I recently started going to counseling, as certain people had been telling me for a while: “Go. You’ll love it. It’ll be great, etc.” So I finally did, and I’m not loving it. It’s hard and it’s painful. It’s bringing up a lot of stuff from my childhood that really hurt me, but which I have never really looked at or grieved. Well, I’m grieving now, and it doesn’t feel so good. So why am I doing it? Because I know it’s good for me, even though it doesn’t feel good, and I know it’s what I need. I also know that this is what God wants for me. God promises in His Word that, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” (Ps. 126:5).

Why is this? Why do I have to cry so much to get healing? Aren’t I supposed to just move on and live in the moment, focusing on how blessed I am? I mean everybody hurts, right? There’s no sense focusing on it. Wrong. There’s a difference between wallowing in depression and self-pity, and seeking to face our brokenness and be healed in a godly, healthy way. We weren’t designed to just move on. God created us to be sensitive and deep emotional beings, which is an amazing thing, but it also means that we are deeply affected by our experiences, whether good or bad. He knows that we will all be hurt, and feel neglected and unloved at some point in our lives.

This is why He encourages us in His Word to mourn our losses, and to share our burdens and brokenness with Him and with others, knowing that He has made deliverance possible. In Matthew 5:4 it says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Mourning can be a good thing. For the Israelites, mourning was a necessary ritual. When a loved one died, they would cry out loud and wail, tear their clothes, and cover their heads with dirt. Why? Because they knew grieving was necessary in order to heal.

The Israelites were open with how broken they were, and allowed themselves to be comforted. We all need to be comforted when we are hurting. We need others to affirm us, to let us know that we have a right to feel hurt, and to remind us that deliverance and healing is available. Too often we try to keep our pain to ourselves, and deal with it alone. I know I do. But we weren’t designed that way. We need others. God calls us to share our brokenness with one another. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed…”(James 5:16). This is the godly way to deal with the pain of loss.

In 2 Corinthians 7:10, Paul talks about godly sorrow. He says godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation, but worldly sorrow leads to death. For a long time, I’ve dealt with my sorrow in worldly ways. I used drugs and alcohol to escape the reality that I was holding on to unresolved anger and unforgiveness that stemmed from feeling very hurt and neglected as a teenager. I learned to cope by numbing out. In a way I didn’t even realize I had hurts that hadn’t been dealt with. Instead of getting honest about my feelings, I would drink or get stoned. It wasn’t until I gave up these things that I saw that I needed to grieve some things in order to really get healing.

I thank God that I am able to go to counseling, and that I have supportive, godly people in my life to help me heal. Facing painful realities about the past may not be the easy way or the most comfortable way, but I know it’s the godly way. It will lead to true healing and deliverance. If you think you may be hanging on to unresolved feelings, or you are dealing with addiction, I encourage you to prayerfully consider talking to someone who you know is a safe person, or to seek professional counseling.

I will leave you with this final thought. As Christians, we have hope. We know that one day there will be no more brokenness, and no need to grieve. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”(Rev. 21:4).

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  1. Thank you for this good post on grieving.
    I’m researching ancient Hebrew grieving.
    Can you please point me to a verse in the old testament that shows people covering their heads with dirt?

  2. Thank you for this post. I have only recently discovered the cost of unresolved grief. Your advice to seek counseling, and your experience, are quite helpful.

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