Refined By Sorrow

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
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Ecclesiastes 7:3 – Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. (NLT)

Never had I witnessed sorrow bring such a transformation.

When times of deep sorrow strike, many choose the road of bitterness toward God. "If God's as good as you claim, why did … ," they ask. And I've wondered the same thing when traveling roads of sorrow. Not James. I was his pastor, but he and his wife rarely attended church, nor had I ever been to their home. Only through the grapevine did I know that they had marital challenges.

Late one evening, I received a call about a wreck involving James' wife and young son. She had swerved to avoid a deer, ran off the road, and crashed. She was banged up and in shock. Her infant son was dead.

Following the funeral and several days of intense grieving, James began attending church regularly — actually, every time the doors opened. Soon, he walked the aisle, rededicated his life to Christ, and requested baptism. He continued to grow spiritually, and within a year of the accident, he was serving as a deacon in the church. Sorrow had refined him.

What wise King Solomon says in today's verse seems ludicrous. Who in their right mind would rather have sorrow than laughter? But his conclusion is accurate: sadness has a refining influence.

Periods of sorrow remind me that I have little — if any — jurisdiction over most of what happens to me. Through hindsight, I see how I could have changed the course of some of my travels, but most of them were outside of my control.

Knowing that God has a determinative and permissive will helps. Some things will happen because He has determined that they will, while others occur because He permits them — even though they aren't in His perfect plan. Understanding this on my part requires faith and admitting that I can't always understand God's ways. They are higher than mine.

If I respond correctly, sorrow will refine my relationship with God by moving me closer to Him. Knowledge that He's in control will replace worry and anxiety. I'll plunge deeply into His Word and run to Him through prayer. Sorrow can also produce a greater level of perseverance and patience. After all, I have a hope that unbelievers don't have.

Let's not allow the sorrow that comes from living in a sinful world depress us. God loves us and is in control of our life events. If we let Him, He will refine us through sorrow.

Prayer: Father, when times of sorrow encroach upon our lives, help us to trust You to use them as refining tools which will enable us to grow spiritually. Amen.

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About the author:

Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Happened to James’ wife?

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.

    This speaks directly to me… perfect timing. I hear you so well. Thank you!

    Thank you. I am presently in hospital and the lady next to me is dying in a lot of pain. She needs prayer.

    Thank you, Martin for this great example – now, what about his wife? She went on my prayer list as I finished reading.

    It is true, isn’t it, that good – whether increased strength, commitment, comfort, or whatever – comes from something that we might at first consider to be dreadful. God knows our frame!

    Thanks Martin. I read this verse a week or so ago and it stopped me in my tracks it was so profound. I wrote it down in my book and gave it considerable thought in regards to my own life. It really is very encouraging isn’t it.

    Hello Martin
    Thank you for your devotional. It was so good and needed to be put out there to help people who need to hear there is hope in the darkness.
    God bless.

    Thanks Martin, I enjoyed your analysis of how we tend to connect or search for God when we run into sorrow times.
    It’s right on.
    Keep-on pushing the faith,

    Greetings Martin,
    Thank you for this devotional reflecting on the fact that sorrow can have a refining effect and bring us closer to God. We never know what and why some things happen to us, but we must have faith that God knows what is best in the end.
    Blessings for your thoughtful writings.

    Dear Martin,
    Thank you for being such a faithful contributor to the devotionals. Thank you for sharing honestly about how you feel and what you have been or are going through. My brother died young and my parents never lost their faith in God which was a good lesson for the rest of us to remember through the difficult times in our lives. As you say, we don’t have to understand God’s reasons, we just have to have faith. May many blessings come your way.

    Martin, your words of wisdom are so true!
    I particularly appreciate this statement you made:
    “Knowledge that He is in control will replace worry and anxiety”. When things cause us ‘sorrow’, like the unexpected death of a spouse of almost 50 years, it REALLY helped strengthen me to carry on knowing God is in control and is as close as the mention of HIS name, all the time!!!
    This experience has sure drawn me closer to God!
    I joined a Bible study recently in which it was pointed out that worry is dishonouring to God and therefore a ‘sin’. I had never thought of it that way, but it does make sense. I think that’s why trusting our all-powerful, all-knowing, loving Saviour refines us in our sorrow!
    Thanks for writing!

    Hi Martin,
    This was a deeply touching message and l thank you for sharing it. As someone who has gone through loss myself, l appreciate you addressing this Bible verse and lesson.

    Call it coincidence or…? Listening to the radio this morning and heard “Jersey On The Wall (I’m Just Asking)” by Tennille Townes. The lyrics have a connection between your message and her song.

    Thanks, Martin. I like the phrase “refined by sorrow.” It puts new meaning to my life experiences.

    Thank you Martin Wiles for the caring and praying devotional.

    How good that the young man took the Lord’s road in his time of sorrow. I pray for him and his wife in this time and forever.
    Thanks for writing.


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