Bible Study

Clinging to the Cloak of Sorrow

Michael Beck Michael Beck

Scripture speaks of being “clothed” with both good and evil things

– honor (Psalm 104:1)
– majesty (Psalm 104:1)
– praise (Isaiah 61:3)
– salvation (Isaiah 61:10)
– righteousness (Job 29:14; Psalm 132:9)
– strength (Psalm 93:1)
– humility (1 Peter 5:5)
– zeal (Isaiah 59:17)
– vengeance (Isaiah 59:17)
– shame (Job 8:22; Psalm 109:29)
– cursing (Psalm 109:18)
– violence (Psalm 73:6)
– desolation (Ezekiel 7:27)
– covetousness (1 Thessalonians 2:5)
– maliciousness (1 Peter 2:16)
– sorrow (Proverbs 25:20 implied)

Although we can wear it at times like a garment, sorrow is not something we were meant to have on us continually.

As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart. (Proverbs 25:20)

It is appropriate to wear sorrow at certain times.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)

We are called to sorrow with those who appropriately sorrow.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Romans 12:15)

What CAUSES sorrow?

We sorrow when someone (or something) we want to keep is taken from us.

But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. (John 16:6)

The death of a loved one brings the greatest of sorrows.

And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! (2 Samuel 18:33)

For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (Philippians 2:27)

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

Sorrow involves the LOSS of things we LOVE or WANT.

The “sorrow of the world” focuses on what one has lost (or hasn’t found) in the world.
“Godly sorrow” focuses on the loss of God’s presence and favor in one’s life.

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

We can sorrow because we long for the past.

Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;
As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;
When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me (Job 29:2-5)

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. (Psalm 137:1-3)

My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. (Psalm 42:3-4)

A longing for the past can foster sorrow (and even a despising of the present.)

But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off. (Ezra 3:12-13)

Longing for the past is not wise.

Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

Sadness can rule our heart because things are not the way we like.

And Ahab came into his house heavy (sad) and displeased (angry) because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.
But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?
And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. (1 Kings 21:4-6)

Even as a coat protects us from the discomfort of cold weather, so sorrow is used to keep us from an environment we are not pleased to live in.

Sorrow opens us up to bitterness with life.

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? (Ruth 1:20,21)

mara > Hebrew – bitterness

Sorrow creates despair.

My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope.
O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good. (Job 7:6,7)

Continuing sorrow of heart “breaks” the spirit and gives powers of darkness opportunity to oppress with “dark thoughts.”

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. (Proverbs 15:13)

Sorrow depletes us of energy. Those who are sorrowful are weak and want to “sleep.”

And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow (Lk. 22:45)

Sorrow can so debilitate us that we want to “drop out” of the race set before us.
Sorrow brings us thoughts of wanting life’s journey to end.

Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!
Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!
Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.
What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life?
Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass? (Job 6:8-12)

The cloak of sorrow keeps us insulated from a world we don’t want to face.

Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow. (Job 17:7)

Those who cling to a cloak of sorrow cannot accept the command to rejoice because they believe it means to be happy about circumstances they do not like. But to rejoice in the Lord does not mean we must “force ourselves” to be happy about our circumstances.

Those who are without Christ should be sad and have no reason to be optimistic since they are without God and without hope in this world and the next.

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12)

Those who are in Christ should never sorrow like those in the world who have no hope.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

8 CHANGES Needed to be Delivered and Kept from Sinful Sorrow

1. A CHANGE of APPAREL
We must recognize that the sorrow we have been wearing is evil and be willing to put it off.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (Romans 13:12)

2. A CHANGED PRAYER
We must stop praying, “Lord, change my circumstances;” and start praying, “Lord, change me.”

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:8,9)

3. A CHANGED PROFESSION
We must rejoice in the Lord and be glad that He, if nothing else, is in our life.

Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. (Psalm 73:23-26)

4. A CHANGED PERSPECTIVE
We must know that God works all things together for His good in our life.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

5. A CHANGED PURPOSE
We must live for God’s pleasure instead of our own.

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

6. A CHANGED PASSION
We must delight in the adventure of magnifying Christ in this life.

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20,21)

7. A CHANGED PEACE
We must find our greatest contentment in the gain of godliness.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Philippians 4:11,12)

8. A CHANGED POWER
We must have courage that Christ in us can enable us to triumph in any situation we may face.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.