After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River.” (Joshua 1: 1– 2)
Yesterday you experienced a great sorrow, and now your home seems empty. Your first impulse is to give up and to sit down in despair amid your dashed hopes. Yet you must defy that temptation, for you are at the front line of the battle, and the crisis is at hand. Faltering even one moment would put God’s interest at risk. Other lives will be harmed by your hesitation, and His work will suffer if you simply fold your hands. You must not linger at this point, even to indulge your grief.
A famous general once related this sorrowful story from his own wartime experience. His son was the lieutenant of an artillery unit, and an assault was in progress. As the father led his division in a charge, pressing on across the battlefield, suddenly his eye caught sight of a dead artillery officer lying right before him. Just a glance told him it was his son. The general’s fatherly impulse was to kneel by the body of his beloved son and express his grief, but the duty of the moment demanded he press on with his charge. So after quickly kissing his dead son, he hurried away, leading his command in the assault.
Weeping inconsolably beside a grave will never bring back the treasure of a lost love, nor can any blessing come from such great sadness. Sorrow causes deep scars, and indelibly writes its story on the suffering heart. We never completely recover from our greatest griefs and are never exactly the same after having passed through them. Yet sorrow that is endured in the right spirit impacts our growth favorably and brings us a greater sense of compassion for others. Indeed, those who have no scars of sorrow or suffering upon them are poor. “The joy set before” (Heb. 12: 2) us should shine on our griefs just as the sun shines through the clouds, making them radiant. God has ordained our truest and richest comfort to be found by pressing on toward the goal. Sitting down and brooding over our sorrow deepens the darkness surrounding us, allowing it to creep into our heart. And soon our strength has changed to weakness. But if we will turn from the gloom and remain faithful to the calling of God, the light will shine again and we will grow stronger.
~J. R. Miller
Lord, You know that through our tears
Of hasty, selfish weeping
Comes surer sin, and for our petty fears
Of loss You have in keeping
A greater gain than all of which we dreamed;
You knowest that in grasping
The bright possessions which so precious seemed
We lose them; but if, clasping
Your faithful hand, we tread with steadfast feet
The path of Your appointing,
There waits for us a treasury of sweet
Delight, royal anointing
With oil of gladness and of strength.
~Helen Hunt Jackson
Cowman, L. B. E.; Reimann, Jim (2008-09-09). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (pp. 109-110). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.