Give Sorrow words: the grief, that does not speak,
Whispers the o'erfraught Heart, and bids it break.
HE who tastes only the bitter in the cup of life, who looks only at the clouds which lower in
one quarter of the heavens, while the sun is shining cheerily in another, who persists in
pricking and scratching himself with the thorn, and refuses to enjoy the fragrance of the rose,
is an ingrate to God and a torment to himself.
The record of human life is far more melancholy than its course; the hours of quiet enjoyment
are not noted; the thousand graces and happiness of social life, the loveliness of nature
meeting us at every step, the buoyancy of spirit resulting from health and pure air, the bright
sun, the starry firmament - all that cheers man on his road through his probationary state,
that warms the heart and makes life pleasant - is omitted in the narrative, which can only deal
with facts; and we read of disappointment, and sickness, and death, and exclaim, "Why is man
born to sorrow?" He is not so.
Sorrows are only tempest clouds: when afar off, they look black, but when above us scarcely
gray. Sorrow is the night of the mind. What would be a day without its night? The day reveals
one sun only; the night brings to light the whole of the universe. The analogy is complete.
Sorrow is the firmament of thought and the school of intelligence. Men that are wise, as the
bees draw honey from the thyme, which is a most unsavory and dry herb, extract something
that is convenient and useful even from the most bitter afflictions.
Great undertakings require the Christian's faith to endure the deep and overwhelming
experiences of human sorrow without relinquishing their cherished life-work. The world in its
bitterest forms of oppression spent itself upon Tasso, Dante, and Milton, in vain. Redeemed,
exalted, purified, they came forth from the abyss of anguish, and sang to their fellows a song
which those who have never suffered, could never utter. Alas! how many richly freighted souls
have sunk in the angry billows that came rushing in their furious strength only to bend
beneath these master-spirits and bear them up to immortality. Sweetest of all songs are the
Psalms in the night. David sang with the most touching tenderness when in the gloom of
deepest affliction. The heart may wail a miserere over its dead or its dying, but even that will
be sadly sweet, and will have a hope in it. The saddest song is better than none, because it is a
Sorrow is one of God's own angels in the land. Her pruning-knife may not spare the tender
buds of hope that make glad the garden of the soul, but her fingers sow the seeds of a quick
sympathy with the woes of a common humanity, which, springing into leaf, and bud, and
blossom, send perfume and beauty into the waste place of lonely lives, and permeate with
fragrant incense the soil that gave them birth.
The simplest and most obvious use of sorrow is to remind us of God. It would seem that a
certain shock is needed to bring us in contact with reality. We are not conscious of breathing
till obstruction makes it felt. WE are not aware of the possession of a heart till some disease,
some sudden joy or sorrow, rouses it into extraordinary action. And we are not conscious of
the mighty cravings of our half divine humanity; we are not aware of the God within us till
some chasm yawns which must be filled, or till the rending asunder of our affections forces us
to become fearfully conscious of a need.
To mourn without measure, is folly; not to mourn at all, is insensibility. God says to the fruit
tree, bloom and bear; and to the human heart, bear and bloom - the soul's great blossoming is
the flower of suffering. As the sun coverts clouds into a glorious drapery, firing them with
gorgeous hues, and draping the whole horizon with its glorious costume, and writing victory
in fiery colors along the vanquished front of every cloud, so sometimes a radiant heart lets
forth its hope upon its sorrow and all the blackness flies, and troubles that trooped to appal
seem to crowd around as a triumphal procession following the steps of a victor.
There are people who think that to be grim is to be good, and that a thought, to be really
wholesome, must necessarily be shaped like a coffin. They seem to think that black is the color
of heaven, and that the more they can make their faces look like midnight, the holier they are.
The days of darkness come, and they are many, but our eye takes in only the first. One wave
hides another, and the effort to encounter the foremost withdraws our thought from evils
which are pressing on. If we could see them all at once we might lie down, like Elijah, under
the juniper tree, and say, "It is enough - let me not live!" But patience attains her perfect
work while trials unfold. The capacity of sorrow belongs to our grandeur; and the loftiest of
our race are those who have had the profoundest grief, because they have had the profoundest
Sorrow comes soon enough without despondency; it does a man no good to carry around a
lightning-rod to attract trouble. When a gloom falls upon us, it may be we have entered into
the cloud that will give its gentle showers to refresh and strengthen us. Heavy burdens of
sorrow seem like a stone hung round our neck, yet they are often only like the stone used by
pearl divers, which enables them to reach the prize and rise enriched.
There are sorrows too sacred to be babbled to the world, and there may be loves which one
would forbear to whisper even to a friend. Real sorrow is not clamorous. It seeks to shun
every eye, and breathes in solitude and silence the sighs that come from the heart. Every heart
has its secret sorrow, which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold when he
is only sad. Give not thy mind to heaviness; the gladness of the heart is the life of man, and
joyfulness of a man prolongeth his days. Remove sorrow far from thee, for sorrow hath killed
many, and there is no profit therein; and carefulness bringeth age before the time.
We are inclined to think that the causes of our sorrows are sent to us from above; often we
weep, we groan in our spirits, and we murmur against God; but he leaves us to our sorrow,
and we are saved; our present grief saves from an eternal sorrow. It would be well, however, if
we attempted to trace the cause of them; we should probably find their origin in some region
of the heart which we never had well explored, or in which we had secretly deposited our
worst indulgences. The clouds that intercept the heavens from us, come not from the heavens,
but from the earth. Excess of sorrow is as foolish as continued laughter. Loud mirth, or
immoderate sorrow, inequality of behavior, either in prosperity or adversity are alike
ungraceful in man who is born to die. Some are refined, like gold, in the furnace; others, like
chaff, are consumed in it. Sorrow, when it is excessive, takes away fervor from piety, vigor
from action, health from body, light from reason, and repose from the conscience.
Those who work hard seldom yield themselves entirely up to fancied or real sorrow. When
grief sits down, folds its hands and mournfully feeds upon its own tears, weaving the dim
shadows, that a little exertion might sweep away into a funeral pall, the strong spirit is shorn
of its might, and sorrow becomes our master. When troubles flow upon you, dark and heavy,
toil not with the waves; wrestle not with the torrent; rather seek, by occupation, to divert the
dark waters that threaten to overwhelm you, into a thousand channels which the duties of life
always present. Before you dream of it, those waters will fertilize the present, and give birth to
fresh flowers that may brighten the future - glowers that will become pure and holy, in the
sunshine which penetrates to the path of duty, in spite of every obstacle. Grief, after all, is but
a selfish feeling; and most selfish is the man who yields himself to the indulgence of any
passion which brings no joy to his fellow man.
They are the true kings and queens, heroes and heroines, who, folding a pall of tenderest
memory over the faces of their own lost hopes and perished loves, go with unfaltering courage,
to grapple with the future, to strengthen the weak, to comfort the weary, to hang sweet
pictures of faith and trust in the silent galleries of sunless lives, and to point the desolate,
whose paths wind ever among shadows and over rocks where never the green moss grows, to
the golden heights of the hereafter, where the palms of victory wave.
Difficulties are things that show what men are. In case of any difficulty, remember that God,
like a gymnastic trainer, has pitted you against a rough antagonist. For what end? That you
may be an Olympic conqueror, and this cannot be without toil. He who has great affliction is
made of sterner stuff than most men. God seems to have selected him, like second growth
timber, for important work. It is not every one that can be trusted to suffer greatly. God has
confidence in him to the extent of the affliction.
Causeless depression is not to be reasoned with, nor can David's harp charm it away, by sweet
discoursings. As well fight with the mist as with this shapeless, undefinable, yet all-beclouding
hopelessness. If those who laugh at such melancholy did but feel the grief of it for one hour,
their laughter would be sobered into compassion. Resolution might, perhaps, shake it off, but
where are we to find the resolution, when the whole man is unstrung?
It is a poor relief for sorrow to fly to the distractions of the world; as well might a lost and
wearied bird, suspended over the abyss of the tempestuous ocean, seek a resting place on its
heaving waves, as the child of trouble seek a place of repose amid the bustling cares and
intoxicating pleasures of earth and time. Christ is a refuge and "a very present help in
The Royal Path of Life - Aims and Aids to Success and Happiness - 1882 by T.L. Haines & L.W. Yaggy