What profit is there in walking mournfully? None. The only thing that truly profits a man is joy. You see, the advantage to sorrow’s fire is not found in the things that are consumed, but rather in those things that it cannot consume. So, the best and most beneficial use of adversity is for it to reveal the one thing that it cannot take way – my joy.
There’s a material that fire cannot destroy, much like the burning bush that Moses encountered in the desert. The only way for the substance of that shrub to be proved was by the fire. But don’t misunderstand, the blessing is not found in the burning or what was being burnt up, but rather in what was not.
The three Hebrew Children – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – walked through the fiery furnace and remained unsinged. In fact, they didn’t even smell like smoke. So, what then was the purpose of them passing through the fire? It was to show what the furnace couldn’t do, to demonstrate the limitations of its fiery power. I’m sure that there were inconsequential things that were tossed into that fire which were immediately consumed. In fact, that’s what Daniel records for us. Those three young men were thrown in bound and came out of the fire loosed. But as great a miracle and act of deliverance as that was it is not the thing that makes the fire so beneficial. What makes the furnace so fantastic is what it left untouched, unsinged, unharmed. The ultimate glory of that furnace is found in what it failed to do.
The ultimate glory of sorrow is very similar. Sorrow finds it glory in that which it cannot accomplish, what it fails to do. Sometimes I believe that as believers we think that our grief is somehow pleasing to our Heavenly Father. In reality, there is nothing that pleases our Father more than our joy. He doesn’t search our hearts looking to find our pain, but rather the pearl. He desires to see the tenacity of our joyfulness – to see that it refuses to be extinguished.
Was Jesus the Father’s Beloved because He was “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”? No, but rather because even all the sorrows He suffered could not extinguish His joy. It was for the joy that was set before Him that He endured the cross and despised the shame. In fact, even under the cross’ shadow our Savior said, “My peace I give to you…” It was that peace, not His pain, that was the Father’s pearl. It was not His cloud, but the rainbow in the cloud that made His Father’s heart rejoice. The same is true in our lives today.
Why does the Father send clouds into our lives? To defeat us? To demoralize us? To make us depressed? No, it is to test the tenacity of our joy. To see whether the rainbow can be seen in the flood or the dove can live on the waters. Why would He send cypress when what he seeks for is the laurel? Why sing a funeral dirge when he’s asked for a song of praise? The Lord blocks the sun not so that you can see the night but so that you can see your candle – the source of internal joy. He is gratified in the carrying of your grief because the only thing that can truly bear it is your joy. That’s why the fires of your life are never turned to cleansing until the gleam and glitter of gold becomes visible.