THE MYSTERY OF SORROW.
The patriarch Job experienced the darkness and mystery of sorrow when he thus spoke:—“Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net. Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment. He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head. He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone; and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.” “Even to-day is my complaint bitter; my stroke is heavier than my groaning. O that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!” “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him. But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
The sweet singer of Israel sung in darkness when he said:—“My heart is sore pained within me; and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. And I said, O that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.” “Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.”
The prophet Jeremiah cried out of the depths of mysterious sorrow when he poured forth these lamentations:—“I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.” “He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out; he hath made my chain heavy.” “And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.”
And did not our blessed Lord himself experience, as a man, the mystery of sorrow when he cried in Gethsemane, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” and when, during that “hour and power of darkness” on the cross, He exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
If, then, our Father visits us with any sorrow which is to us dark and mysterious, let us “not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try us, as if some strange thing happened to us.” Let us rather gratefully remember, that ever since our Lord has ascended up on high, and given us His Spirit to teach us and to abide with us for ever, and for our profit has recorded in His holy Word not only His acts, but also His ways towards the children of men, we are enabled to see much, light piercing our greatest darkness and sorrow, and so to know God as to strengthen our faith in His wisdom and love.