How Sorrow Produces Joy

How Sorrow Produces Joy

This is a reflection on how sorrow can be the means of joy. It is a reflection on how i find Him. Sometimes when I need to find a way into Him, I find words from His followers that help me see Him. It is primarily in words that God speaks to us and awakens the heart. When we lack words, we find words to use. Today, I found a poem from Christian Rossetti that God used to help me see. It has helped me. Let me share what I see and may it be a gift to you.

It needs profound patience, patience born of love,

 and sustained by love, to achieve final perseverance

It seems an easy thing, Mayhap, one day to sing,
Yet the next day We cannot sing nor say.

Keep silence with good heart While silence fits our part;
Another day We shall both sing and say.

Keep silence, counting time To strike in at the time:
Prepare to sound, Our part is coming round!

Cannot we sing or say? In silence let us pray,  
And meditate Our love-song while we wait.

Obedience is the fruit of faith; patience, the bloom on the fruit.

This poem is famous for the last line: “Obedience is the fruit of faith; patience, the bloom of the fruit”. Yet the line taken out of context loses all the beauty of the poem. Poetry is the music of words. It uses rhyme and spacing and rhythm to speak to the mind and soul in ways that other words cannot. This is why the Psalms stand as one of the greatest treasures of literature in all of human history. They are the poetry of the soul and relationship with God.

This poem begins with “It”. This subject is the aim of the poem. Yet, it is not clear what “It” is referring to. It cannot be “faith” because the poem assumes faith with its obedience: “keep silent”, “let us pray”, “prepare to sound”. These phrases are acts of obedience for the person of faith. The “It” can’t be patience. It promises “another day” to “sing and say”. Patience seems assumed in the poem. The poem is about a certain kind of life; it is a life of faith-filled obedience and the patience it causes.

We do not know yet what the first “It” refers to but the body of the poem gives means of faith, obedience and patience. The second stanza speaks of a day—or a season of time—where all is well and singing is easy. Then, there are seasons when the singing does not come. Singing is a symbol of joy, satisfaction and praise. It’s whistling at work; it is praising God for the good of the day; it is the joy knowing that God has made a way. If there is no singing for a season that is because we find ourselves in a season where it seems that joy, goodness and God have hidden themselves. This is a poem of how to suffer until “It” happens.

Keeping silent is a major theme of the poem on what to do in suffering while we wait. Sometimes our words fail us. Some things cannot be explained. Or maybe, our words make things worse. Or maybe our words our hollow because we think God is mad at us. Sometimes being quiet fits the moment really well. We don’t always need to try and fix things, defend ourselves or make sense of a season of suffering. Sometimes, the best thing to do is be silent.

A Christian who in faith embraces silence is trusting God. In a season of confusion, pain and suffering when the future is unknown. Silence means Lord I am giving my life to you. I trust you with it. I will not try and make a way; you alone have that power. This situation makes it clear. So, I quiet myself before you.

Then, Rossetti gives us three things to keep before us in the season of suffering and silence. The first is that there will be “another day” where the song will be sung again. This is the language of hope. Focus on the knowledge that God is in control and there will be a day where life brings forth a song. Focus on hope. The second thing to keep before us is the signs of the times. Rossetti writes,“Prepare to sound, our part is coming round.” Get ready soul; do not miss out of the change of seasons. Get your voice ready to shout with joy. This is your part; Do all you can do to be ready. Third, think upon your “love-song.” A love song is a song between two lovers. It is about their love, the history of their love and why love flourished among them. Rossetti is referring to the song of love between believer and the Son. Meditate on how His love has been faithful. Think on how good He is to you. Revel in his mercies and grace. Do not forget. Remember His goodness.

Now, we are ready to explore what “It” might be. “It” is the full knowledge of the goodness of God in life that fills us with joy unspeakable. Perhaps, this should be the title: “Joy Unspeakable”. In the first stanza we are told that this knowledge is born and sustained in love, even in the songless seasons. We see this in the first stanza. This knowledge grows in the places of suffering as we learn to persevere. The songless days make the songs of joy possible!

Embrace silence when the world shakes. Focus on hope—you and I will sing once again from the depths of joy. Get ready for your part in the dance of joyous love—sing your heart out when He reveals his faithfulness. Finally, remember the love between you and the Son. It is a source of unbelievable faith and strength.

We must always do the work to keep the fire of faith burning within our heart. As we do our work, God does his. He fills it with the fuel of his life; we see him. It helps us to keep going another day.

The song of joy will be sung.

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