“Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of expression the heart is made glad.”
— Ecclesiastes 7:3
In another sweeping biblical paradox, where the Bible suggests something that seems on the surface, unfitting, there is great wisdom in the truth that sorrow is better than laughter. The fool laughs in their frivolity, as thoughtless amusement frees their heart, but the wise are generally found more serious of demeanour; able always to discern all the truths of life.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with humour or laughter, it is an inferior emotional state in a broken world (though it’s still much desired, which is understandable). In a broken world sorrow connects us with the silent suffering majority—even as they suffer within the bounds of their existence.
Where the Real Life Resides
Connection is the keyword in terms of our existence, and how we find that experience of existing. Existing has about it mental and emotional constructs that, at least in some ways, prevail themselves over us. Things happen and we get a choice as to how we respond.
When life runs well, and we are enjoying a good run, there is little, truly, to be learned. Sure, we may learn to plenty of things in a satisfying season, but true learning depth comes about more so through a challenging season.
Of course, we all hate the irony of this.
But that’s life. At least when we are in a challenging season, and we are given opportunities to respond well, we stand to learn much more than we would have if most things were easy.
Where the real life resides is in difficulty. In difficulty we are connected, because we need connection, and because we need to think about connection and meaning.
So it may be wrong to begrudge the sorrowful time, though there are many sorrows we might endure that we would not wish upon our enemies. And begrudging attitudes and behaviours are understood by God as something normal of human response.
Experiencing Joy During The Low Season
This is another biblical concept that has the world in a spin. We may be a source of derision to suggest that joy is available during times of sorrow.
Sometimes it is a stretch to experience joy, especially in the realm of acute loss. But there is always, eventually, a complex thread of meaning that emanates out of the worst situations. At times we may not be able to call this joy. But as we do our grief-work of adjustment we are almost certainly working toward joy.
Reality is a harsh lesson, but it’s a very effective teacher. Truth is an ally, if we don’t fear it. With courage, we can accept reality. When we can grapple with any reality, we are blessed most of all. We learn these truths during the hard times. God should be praised for what he is doing in, through, and for us during the hard times.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.