Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #119 --- Sorrow

Quotations on Sorrow


Sorrow always makes a severe test of those who experience it. The reality of our faith in God and the resources stored up therefore are revealed when sorrow tests us. Whether we are defeated or surmount sorrow is determined by the source of our courage, wisdom and faith. There are four basic principles which everyone should follow in facing sorrow: 1. We ought not to feel ashamed to express the genuine grief we feel. 2. We must avoid the temptation to overindulge in grief. 3. We should accept bravely what we cannot change and go out of ourselves to transmute sorrow into service. We do this by passing from feeling sorry for ourselves, which paralyzes, to feeling concern for others, which heals. 4. Finally, but most important of all, we need to meet sorrow with real faith in God.

—J.H. Avery, Panama City News-Herald, Panama City, Fla., Jan. 12, 1958.


Nothing reveals the capacity of a man or woman more than does his or her fortitude in trial. To meet misfortunes, to meet calamities and sorrow and bear up under it, indicates capacity of soul and mind. ...

Carlyle speaks of the divine worship of sorrow. Only those who has passed through sorrow can worship it, can place it in its proper relation to the human soul. Were it not for our sorrows and our disappointments in life and our common adversities, the human heart would cease to be the tender, passionate thing it is, and we would be little better than the uncivilized, the rude barbarian, were it not that human suffering keeps our hearts tender, and from the tenderness of our natures these beautiful flowers of sympathy grow.

Sorrow is not a misfortune. Neither were all the ills that come to mankind turned loose in this world by mistake. Sorrow has its meaning, it has its purpose to develop in us the power, the truth, the tenderness, and reveal our soul, to make us expand, to grow, from the experiences that come to us. This is the aspect of life which I am inclined to take, and in this aspect I see a philosophy in every adversity. I see compensation in every sorrow not only hereafter, but here there is a present reward to everything that we do. ... There is something sublimely beautiful in sorrow. There is something infinitely valuable in every experience through which we pass. ... God, who is our Creator, designed us all to develop to the highest and to the fullest.

—Nephi L. Morris, Morning Examiner, Ogden, Utah, May 11, 1908.


The way a Christian acts in sorrow will reveal the character of his religion. Here the test of one's love toward God and man is very severe. To be sorrowful without bitterness; to grieve without resentment; to mourn without rebellion; to endure affliction without revenge toward the one who brought about the afflictions; these are Christians.

—W.W. Horner, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, June 2, 1913.


"Sorrow is better than laughter." (Ecclesiastes 7:3.)

Sorrow is a better teacher than laughter. It is the most unpopular of God's pedagogues. But its classes are always full. Prince and peasant, millionaire and pauper, little child and old man, are its pupils. Its curriculum is never finished. It graduates none. It dismisses never for demerits.

It teaches discrimination between the evil and the good. It takes the infant in its mother's arms and begins to drill into its cranium this lesson. It perpetually carries on its schooling. A boy liked the looks of a bottle of poison. He drank it. It went down easily. But sorrow soon taught him that pretty things may be bad things. A boy picked up and snapped a pistol at his cousin. There was a funeral in that community and a brokenhearted boy mourned for one who was not. Both these youngsters are like you and me. They had to go to school to Sorrow. They are still learning. Their teacher goes on teaching them and us, teaching forever discrimination in choices.

It teaches the value of the fleeting and the abiding. We put our affections on money. It sprouts wings and is away. We set our hearts on business, glory and power. In a moment the foundation stones underneath our Babels crumble forever. We seek to have and to hold some treasure object about which God's will differs from our own. We possess it and find it an apple of Sodom. But in our school of sorrow one day a sweeter breath blows upon us. Righteousness is remembered. Duty is seen a fairer thing. Service and sacrifice as principles of action become greater than all self-seeking. Something whispers, "Now abideth faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13.) Sorrow teaches that the life that crowns the invisible things crowns the abiding things. It teaches that the things worthwhile are not measured by material standards. It teaches us that the true measures of the soul are not subject to the accidents of time and space, but are eternal. It teaches that dollars and diamonds are as dust in comparison with truth and virtue with God.

Sorrow is a better refiner than laughter. We may laugh and grow fat in body, while growing like Pharaoh's kine in soul. We may also sorrow and shrivel up. Nothing of pleasure or pain is an absolute guarantee of greatness. But sorrow is too universal, too serious not to have a serious mission. Pain and tears without a purpose are unthinkable in a world of love. At the very heart of all excellent things is too much tragedy for God not to have it as one of His arsenals. ... We know that the achievements of man are had at the cost of suffering. ... In the evolution of character man loses the unessentials, the barriers to soul expansion. The imprisoned splendor planted within him by the Divine Hand is often freed at the touch of God's great soul artists, among which Sorrow stands as a mighty Raphael or Angelo. ...

Sorrow is a better unifier than laughter. "Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone" is a lie. It has always been a lie. ... Sorrow makes us one with God. ... When sorrow submerges the soul it has a new understanding of the divine heartaches for the race. In that hour the kinship of man and his Maker is felt.

Sorrow makes us one with Christ. He was tempted, tried, hungered, misunderstood, cast out by His own, bereft of His disciples, pierced by many sorrows. This is the lot of life. In such hours the bravest and best want refuge. Where they can find it as in Him? In periods of grief the soul is the opportunity of contact between it and its Savior. There is learns its sympathy, strength. There it seeks the secret of His calm and His heroism. To the man of sorrows it comes with its sorrows and finds them assuaged.

Sorrow makes us one with our brothers. ... Your own sorrow is the divine touch that adds to your power to help and to save. It is the bond that binds you to the universal man. It is a bit of God's passion perpetuated. It is something of a sesame to the society of the great hearts of earth and heaven. It does not make any difference what is the cause of a soul's sorrow, that sorrow is akin to mine. ...

I have come to believe that even sorrow has a golden lining. Every year, pain, tragedy, catastrophe makes me think of my brother, my own fathomless need, and the God over all.

—J. Frank Smith, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, April 22, 1906.


The way we meet sorrow will depend on the way we meet life. ... Sorrow is never easy to bear but it is made easier if we have lived as we should, if we have done what is humanly possible to do. ...

The way we meet sorrow will depend on the way we think of death. ... Believe in Jesus Christ. ... Believe He conquered sin and death by His life and death and resurrection. ... Believe that we have won the decisive battle when we die with Him to sin and are raised to walk in the newness of life. There the issues of death are settled.

If we have "died in Christ" then physical death is God's plan for our birth into the larger and fuller life. We should not grieve for those who are privileged to make the greatest of all ventures. ...

The way we meet sorrow will depend upon the way we use it.

Either it will serve us or we will serve it. ...

It will close in on us or it will open for us new dimensions of the soul. There are those upon whom sorrow has imposed a sentence of voluntary isolation--shutting them up to themselves--away from friends and activities. They have been so occupied with their own griefs that they have become like the Dead Sea--full of brine and salt--spreading not life but death.

On the other hand there have been those who have found death opening up to them new vistas. They have not been able to escape the sorrow but they have found a strength and the closeness of God that they never knew before. Values that never meant much have become of eternal worth. Friends have become dearer, hope more sure, heaven more real.

Then, too, we should remember that it is always better to "light a candle than to curse the darkness." So Paul calls upon us to share our hope with others: "Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:18.) And it is possible that none rightly suffer anywhere without contributing something to the alleviation of human grief, to the triumph of good over evil, of love over hate, and of light over darkness.

So we can grieve as those without hope and it turns upon us to embitter our lives, or we can, by God's help, dedicate our sorrow to His glory. There is in Isaiah a beautiful passage that has to do with just this. The writer says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to comfort all who mourn; to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they might be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." (Isaiah 61:3.)

Sorrow can be transformed and transforming. It plows deep furrows in the soul. There the ground lies fallow-watered by tears, nurtured by God's grace. But out of this seeming deadness there springs new life--"oaks of righteousness," he calls them, "the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." When that happens our sorrow will not be in vain; it will stand as a symbol of the strength that can come from God.

—H. Guy Moore, The Beam, Fort Worth, Texas, June 1960.


Sorrow and grief are inevitable in life. They are inescapable. By realizing this fully, you'll be able to roll with misfortune's punch when it comes--and recover more quickly.

Sorrow can serve a highly useful spiritual purpose. It can break old, unproductive patterns of habit and thought. It can condition the mind to humility.

Sorrow is medicine for the soul and mind, breaking down many barriers which usually stand between man and the tremendous spiritual forces that lie within him.

The ancient Greeks understood this fully in their presentation of dramatic tragedies intended to exert a cleansing influence on the souls of the spectators.

Abraham Lincoln has been referred to often as a man of sorrows. Grief upon grief confronted him throughout his life. But they never broke him. Instead, they merely gave him greater sympathy for his fellows--and brought him true greatness.

The strong character is like fine steel undergoing repeated heat and chilling. Instead of breaking under adversity, it becomes tempered to even greater toughness.

It's in times of deep sorrow that Infinite Intelligence reveals itself to us. Prayer becomes most effective, bringing positive spiritual results and solace.

And only by comparison with the depths of misery can we measure our degree of happiness under more normal circumstances.

Sorrow may become a mighty power for good when it is transformed into constructive action that changes one's way of life. Under its influence, sinful men have become good, alcoholics have cured themselves, and vainglorious persons have learned the need for humbleness.

In lifting man to the highest plane of intelligence in His order of nature, the Creator wisely gave man a capacity for sorrow to insure he would use his superiority moderately and wisely. The abnormal man--the dolt, brute, sadist and criminal--may have great intelligence but lack the capacity for sorrow.

If you have a great capacity for sorrow, you also have a great potential capacity for genius--provided you relate yourself to sorrow as a welcome source of discipline rather than a medium of self-pity.

Some of civilization's greatest works of art and science resulted from moments of grief suffered by their creators.

Trouble and adversity serve to bring people closer together, to renew the spirit of helpfulness and unity among men.

In the depths of sorrow you will discover immense powers of courage and faith to help you overcome the more usual trials and tribulations of everyday life.

You can overcome the trap of self-pity by deliberately seeking out someone with greater cause for sorrow than your own. By helping him or her to meet it bravely and master it, you'll find your own sorrow has melted away in the warmth of your love for others.

Sorrow, like adversity and defeat, brings with it the seed of an equivalent joy.

Look for that seed until you find it. Then nurture it, help it develop and turn defeat into victory.

—Napoleon Hill, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, July 26, 1956.


We may meet sorrow with patient endurance. We may recognize that the whole thing is inevitable and, with heroic submission, make the best of it. The best way to meet our sorrows is with joy. The road that leads to glory is stained with our blood and washed with our tears. God distills from the bitterest cup our joy and salvation. He brings us into deep waters, not to drown us, but to cleanse us. It is one thing to bear our sorrows with clinched teeth, but another to open our lips in praise for them. It is one thing to bear our trials without complaint, but another thing to thank Him that they were sent. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Notice that the blessing is not in the sorrow, but in the comfort to which the sorrow leads. The sorrow of human bereavement is tipped with comfort by the memory of the loved one that is gone. The first shock of grief leaves the heart stunned. For a time all is confusion. Even faith seems to waver, there is no voice of comfort in the soul and God seems far off. But, as the days pass, the bitterness also passes, comfort comes as the morning follows the night. The faults of our loved ones are forgotten and we cherish in memory sweet their virtues.

—Charles R. Neel, Salt Lake Herald-Republican, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 20, 1911.


Many of our sorrows, and the greatest sorrows we experience in life, are of our own making, and could have been averted.

Remorse of conscience resulting from sin is among the greatest of sorrows, and the hardest to heal. No person can afford to commit sin. There is no satisfaction derived from so doing that will justify the sorrow and remorse that result therefrom. Many of our sorrows in life are the result of thoughtlessness on our part. We do things that are unwise and hurtful to ourselves and to others, not having first thought the thing through and considered the inevitable consequences.

—George F. Richards, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 14, 1945.


[One] form of worry is the common one of nursing a sorrow. It may be that you, like most of this class, are secretly proud–though you would not admit it–of displaying a grief that cannot be assuaged. With all gentleness and pity it must nevertheless be said that you have no right to fail in this particular demand that you adjust yourself to the facts of life.

What is your persistent anxiety, anyway, but a demand that you be exempt from the common law? ... Look at things honestly and with a humble soul. Realize that you are not alone in facing trouble. Take the threat of it with hope and the reality, if it comes, with courage.

To do this we must find a definite something to stand on. It may be religion, philosophy, a creed we make for ourselves. ...

Happiness is not a privilege but a duty; love is the food of life; to really live one must love.

If you are a victim of worry, get interested in the affairs of your own town or your neighborhood.

The trouble with you is that all your thoughts are centripetal, whirling in upon yourself. Make them centrifugal. Get interested in some one person. ...

Stop your anxious solicitude about your own small affairs and look about you with eyes open, mind alert, and the will to play your part in life.

—Allison Gray, American Magazine, Springfield, Ohio, October 1918.


Wells of joy are often dug with the spade of sorrow.

—William Henry Bucklew, The Starkville News, Starkville, Miss., Aug. 20, 1948.


Sorrow's plow cuts the furrows for joy's harvest.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., April 11, 1909.


Sorrow is heaven's school, where we learn the alphabet of love.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., July 11, 1909.


He can never know any deep joy who laughs at the sorrows of another.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Jan. 24, 1909.


The sting of sorrow lasts only as long as we refuse to be sweetened by it.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Oct. 3, 1909.


Sorrow is the teacher of sympathy.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Oct. 17, 1909.


The way to the sorrow free land is to try to fee some life from sorrow.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Dec. 19, 1909.


No one possesses happiness who is blind to sorrow.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Dec. 19, 1909.


Sorrow sounds the soul's greatest pool and tests their depth or shallowness.

—W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 23, 1922.


If there were no sorrows in the world there would be fewer joys because of lack of golden opportunities to heal our brother's pain.

—W.A. MacKenzie, The Leesburg Morning Commercial, Leesburg, Fla., Feb. 9, 1927.


Those who refuse to mourn are not necessarily those without grief.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Nov. 25, 1932.


Those who know something about sorrow are least willing to cause it for others.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Nov. 1, 1933.


Sorrow is the acid test of a man's faith.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., April 24, 1939.


Sorrow comes hurrying after sacred vows are broken.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Oct. 19, 1939.


No doubt the birds have their sorrows, but they drown them in a song.

—Frank L. Stanton, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., April 9, 1908.


Sorrow is sometimes nothing more than a shadow of God's providence.

—Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb. 5, 1925.

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