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When Sorrow Takes Over

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The Normality of Sorrow

Sorrow is not a pleasant topic, for conversation, thought or preaching. We generally prefer to stay positive and think on whatever is good, pure and holy.
Philippians 4:8 KJV 1900
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
However, we do live in a fallen world and because sin is here - sorrow is here too. Sorrow is a natural reaction to many things:
Sorrow is cause by life’s trials.
Psalm 90:10 KJV 1900
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, Yet is their strength labour and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Sorrow is caused by illness.
Isaiah 38:2–3 KJV 1900
Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
Sorrow is cause by having to say goodbye to a friend or loved one.
Acts 20:37 KJV 1900
And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,
sorrow is cause by the passing of a loved one.
John 20:11 KJV 1900
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
sorrow is caused by national calamities.
Psalm 137:1 KJV 1900
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, When we remembered Zion.
Let me make this clear: Sorrow is normal, natural and even healthy.
But, as we will see today, this normal, natural, healthy and justifiable sorrow, if left without check can and will lead to a sorrow that is not normal, un-natural, unhealthy and yes, even sinful.

Heartbroken Hannah

In 1 Samual we are introduced to a broken family and a very broken woman.
Elk-anah, the husband and his two wives: Hannah and Pen-nin-nah. Hannah is barren and was most likely his first wife, but in her barreness Elk-anah takes a second wife to bear him children. This is against God’s will and command and is part of the cause of this families trouble.
1 Samuel 1:1–6 KJV 1900
Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.
Lets ask some questions of the text:
Did Hannah have reason to be sorrowful? Yes. Sorrow is not a sin. In fact, when it comes to repentance, sorrow is necessary!
2 Corinthians 7:10 KJV 1900
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
Hannah’s sorrow was not a secret, her husband knew of it and cared deeply for her. He gave her a double portion of peace offerings and loved her deeply.
We must be thankful of those around us who encourage and support us, and we must be willing to love and encourage others well when they need it.
In addition to Hannah’s natural cause of sorrow there is a another thing working against her.
1 Samuel 1:6 KJV 1900
And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.
Hannah has an adversary, an enemy, an enemy who mocks, taunts and provokes her.
So do we.
In addition to all the natural causes of sorrow i mentioned before we also have an enemy of our joy, our peace, our faith and our souls.
1 Peter 5:8 KJV 1900
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
John 10:10 KJV 1900
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
So lets sum up Hannah situation:
He has sorrow, she had family or friends to encourage her and she also has an advisory who is provoking her.
This situation is pretty normal.

When Sorrow becomes Dangerous

all of a sudden things change.
Her husband gently, but firmly rebukes her for her sorrow.
1 Samuel 1:8 KJV 1900
Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?
Why does he rebuke her? because Hannah’s normal, healthy sorrow is about to becomes excessive, unhealthy and borderline sinful.
look at verse 7:
1 Samuel 1:7 KJV 1900
And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.
That phrase “did not eat” is not referring to any old meal, its referring to the annual passover meal of worship. She did not eat the passover.
Let me elaborate: Hannah had become so full of sorrow and sadness that she reached the point where she actually lost her appetite for the things of God and could no longer enjoy the benefits of being in a covenant relationship with God.
Again: As a result of her excessive sorrow she lost her appetite for the things of God.
Tears are normal, but there comes a point where the amount of sorrow is out of proportion to the goodness of God sustaining power. and your sorrow drown out your faith and strips you of the comforts of God.
Yes, it is very easy to become so miserable and sad that you don’t even feel like coming to church, praying and reading the bible.
Malachi 2:13 KJV 1900
And this have ye done again, Covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, Insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, Or receiveth it with good will at your hand.
This is why Elk-anah rebukes her in love and gentleness. Hannah is on a dangerous downward spiral and she needs to snap out of it.
Look what he says to her:
1 Samuel 1:8 KJV 1900
Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?
Translation: I know you dont have a child, but God has given you other blessings. He encourages her to do what we are commanded to do Psalm 103
Psalm 103:2 KJV 1900
Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits:
ie: Count your blessings.
Look at what happens:
1 Samuel 1:9–11 KJV 1900
So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.
She got up and ate. As she thought about the good things that God had done, her appetite for God came back and she was able to partake of His goodness and graces.
She is still sad, she is still sorrowful, but she has escaped a great danger of excessive sorrow: A bitter and hard heart.
As she once again partakes of God goodness she is led into prayer by the Holy Spirit.
“Why should i bear this burden on my own? When the Lord calls me to bring it to him?”
Matthew 11:28 KJV 1900
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
She uses her sorrow to give power to her prayers and supplications.
1 Samuel 1:10 KJV 1900
And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.
Jesus did the same thing:
Luke 22:44 KJV 1900
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Our sorrows are either a weight that will crush us or a step that will higher us.
I am not going to to go into the details of Hannah’s prayer but i will close by looking at the how she was when she got up from her prayer time:
1 Samuel 1:18 KJV 1900
And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.
Count your blessing!
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