Part 5 – Sorrow: God’s Mechanic
Sorrow so many times has become heaven’s mechanic in the garage of life to tune the motor for the journey ahead. I believe the wise man was right when he said, in Ecclesiastes 7:3, “Sorrow is better than laughter,” though it may come as an unwelcome friend.
After climbing to the top of the totem pole of denominational recognition and enjoying the acclaim and the acceptance of the brethren in my denomination, one morning I woke up in the depths of despair after having been kicked off of the fifty thousand watt station by my brethren. I fell on my face on the floor and cried, “Lord, this is the end of the road,” to which He said, “It’s only the bend in the road-there’s a lot more road.”
And after four years on the saw-dust trail with the Gospel tent, then back to Corpus Christi to begin the Alameda Church, I found myself outside the gate and a lifetime of preacher friends had vanished overnight. But I also found that I Corinthians 10:13 was still in force and that the will of God does not lead beyond the comforting presence of Romans 8:28.
I cried desperately for patience and wisdom and grace to have no root of bitterness or desire to fight back and I’ve seen nothing since then but wave after wave of God’s goodness and grace and provisions, opening one door right after another. A home for delinquent boys, a home for alcoholics and narcotic addicts, and a home for convicts, plus fifty radio stations daily to trumpet the truth. And instead of thirty minutes on the fifty thousand watt stations, we have forty-five minutes a day and enough invitations to preach every day for years and never catch up.
I feel like shouting with Paul when he said, “0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory for ever. Amen.” And as I face my fifty-third birthday, I can say,
“I know as my life grows older,
And mine eyes have clearer sight
That under each rank wrong somewhere
There lies the root of right,
That each sorrow has its purpose
By the sorrowing oft’ unguessed.
But as sure as the sun brings morning,
Whatever is is best.
“I know that each sinful action
As sure as the night brings shade
Is somewhere sometime punished
Though the hour be long delayed.
I know the soul is aided
Sometimes by the heart’s unrest
And to grow means often to suffer,
But whatever is is best.
“I know there are no errors
In the great eternal plan
And all things work together
For the final good of man.
And I know when my soul speeds onward
In its grand eternal quest,
I shall say as I look back earthward,
Whatever is is best.”
And I’m confident that we’ll never rest all of our hope on the permanent pillars of God’s eternal truth until the temporary pilings have been swept away.
“Until I learned to trust,
I did not learn to pray
And I did not learn to fully trust
Till sorrow came my way.
“Until I felt my weakness
His strength I never knew,
Or dreamed till I was stricken
That He would see me through.
“Who deepest drink of sorrow
Drink deepest, too, of grace.
He sends the storm so He Himself
Can be our hiding place.
“His heart that seeks our highest good
Knows well when things annoy.
We would not long for heaven
If earth held only joy.”
And the thing so amazing to me is that I’ve not always been a good patient while the Great Physician pruned and repaired. I’ve asked many unnecessary “whys” but found later that
“It is not mine to question the judgments of the Lord,
It is but mine to follow the leadings of His Word;
But if to go or stay, or whether here or there,
I’ll be, with my Saviour, content everywhere!”