There are no small sorrows or insignificant joys. To be considered small means to be compared to something else. But how can the experience of one heart be compared to that of another? Are any two lives the same?
Yet we have this tendency to trivialize our experiences. We minimize our sorrow because we think others have it worse. We minimize our simple joys because we think others have it better. But to what can we compare these experiences?
We have vague notions about what kinds of experiences warrant an appropriate reaction. The loss of a family pet or a relationship is not to be compared with the loss of a spouse or a child, so we think. But what if the experience is the same, emotionally speaking? And if it is, might there be a purpose?
C.S. Lewis once said that pain is God’s megaphone. We ought not shame ourselves when a sorrowful experience produces an extreme emotional response. God knows us intimately. He knows exactly the right way to pull our heartstrings. He knows exactly what to give and exactly what to take away, so as to render and orient all of our hopes and dreams toward Him first.
Now it may be that, in our immaturity, our reactions are unwarranted at times. It may be that we throw a fit over spilt milk. Nevertheless, the proper response is not to minimize our emotional reaction, but to understand it. Our measure of grief is proportionate to how much we have depended upon the thing which we are grieving. It is important to discover this about ourselves!
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.”
Ecclesiastes 7:14 KJV
God desires to bless us in Himself, but we are predisposed to distractedness and idolatry. If God is to bless us, He must be our first love. He must be the apple of our eye, as we are His. This love gives us our bearings in a broken world. This love serves as a foundation. God uses both our sorrow and joy to gain our attention.
In like manner, God delights in showing His lovingkindness to us in the seemingly mundane. We find it silly to be especially moved by the mild act of kindness from the friend at work or the unexpected patience and understanding granted by a spouse.
God as our Great Physician does not strategically break our bones in vain. He breaks so that He may re-set. He reduces before He restores. Likewise, God, as our Great Father does not bless us with simple joys and pleasures in vain. He delights in surprising us with His tenderness and love. When we ask Him for bread, He does not give us a stone.
If we are to grieve, let us grieve fully. If we are to rejoice, let us do so vibrantly. God has provided both sorrow and joy to teach us of His love. When something hits us so tenderly, let us explore it.