I remember the first time I truly felt sorrow. Not the sorrow you felt from the gold fish that didn’t make it home alive from the fairgrounds; I mean the type that makes your bones hurt and your heart beat in your ears. Ever been there before? Maybe you are in that pain now, maybe you are burned up inside with sorrow.
I knew true sorrow at the age of 15. I let my father down in a way I never thought would happen or was possible. I’ll never forget the feeling of walking into my living room at 15 years old and telling my father, “Dad, she’s pregnant.” Seeing his heartbreak in his eyes crushed me. I hurt deeper then I knew I could go. I can’t go into all the details now, but this sorrow sent me down a path of depression, hopelessness, and lies. I was greatly sorrowful. But it was only later in life that I learned the difference between worldly sorrow and Godly sorrow. The sorrow I felt that day and for years to come was that of worldly sorrow.
GODLY SORROW VS. WORLDLY SORROW
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. - 2 Corinthians 7:10
Thankfully, I did not take my worldly sorrow until completion by ending my life (though it came close) but it did lead to death in other ways. It led to the temporary death of my relationship with God, death in my relationships with others, loss of friends, and loss of closeness to my family. This worldly sorrow burned me up inside to run as far from God and the pain of shame as I could.
I ran for 11 years but then at the age of 26 I felt great sorrow once again. This time I was not looking into my earthly fathers eyes, but now I encountered the eyes of my Heavenly Father. Once again, I fully expected (and deserved) a Father to look at me through pain, but this encounter was different. I similarly felt sorrow when I was confronted with my sins. But this time the sorrow I felt led to hope. Although deeply in sorrow for the wrongs I had done, I knew somehow that if I followed through with repenting and surrendering my life fully to my Heavenly Father, it would lead to life and not just any life but life to the full. (John 10:10)
SORROW IS LIKE A FIRE
I realized that day that sorrow is like a fire. It can burn you up into ashes or it can produce a fire of desire. This time my sorrow didn’t burn me up to death but ignited a fire for Jesus. I didn’t burn up; I burned within to make things right even though more pain was sure to follow. This was Godly sorrow.
See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done… - 2nd Corinthians 7:11
POINTS TO PONDER
What about you? Is sorrow burning you up to death or producing a fire inside to not waste another breath?
Consider the sorrow between Judas Iscariot and Peter. Read the following text and ask yourself these questions.
PETER: Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75; Acts 4:8-13
JUDAS: Matthew 27:1-5
1. Did Judas and Peter both sin?
2. Did Judas and Peter both regret their sin and feel sorrowful?
3. What caused Peter’s sorrow to become Godly sorrow vs. the worldly sorrow of Judas?
4. How can I cultivate my heart to prepare to encounter sorrow that produces life not death?
While on earth, we all will experience sorrow and grief. Let’s remember we are not alone. We have a Heavenly Father who is waiting to wrap His arms of love around us and comfort us in all our pain.