Fires of Sorrow

Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Gary | 14 comments


Thinking about my own life and recent conversations, I realize that the older we get and the more of our life we can observe, the more regret or sorrow we may experience. For some, this sorrow develops into renewed desire and resolve. For others, this regret often develops into despair and resignation.

Most people try to mute sorrow’s voice, concerning certain aspects of their lives, with busyness and entertainment. They quote the verse, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Phil. 3:13) to justify their avoidance. The problem with denial is that the sorrow doesn’t go away and more significantly, nothing is gained from it.

Scripture says, “…Your sorrow made you change your lives. You became sad in the way God wanted you to…The kind of sorrow God wants makes people change their hearts and lives.” (2 Cor. 7:9, 10 NCV) “Godly sorrow” is a good thing, often offering the guidance we have been searching for concerning the direction of our life.

What have I felt sorrow or regret over?

I regret the amount of time I left Leigh alone with the kids when they were young as I traveled for my work.

I regret some of the things I did to “join in with the group” or be “one of the guys.”

I regret taking on another department with the departure of its director while my wife cautioned me about my workload and motives.

I regret the friendships I kept at a distance because of the way I let unresolved hurts and unhealed wounds define my “relational style”.

I regret the times I did not show-up, stand-up or speak up out of fear – and what it did to me.

I regret the times I acted out of anger, hurting my family, friends or co-workers.

These sorrows created fertile ground for growth and change in my life. I am much more aware of my motives and my heart’s reaction to circumstances. I am much more aware of my fears and their origins and can push through them more often. I understand the life of my heart more deeply, therefore I can more fully and quickly understand the heart of another. I am more aware of my truest desires for relationship, contribution and rhythm in life. I am less hasty and rash, understanding more deeply the potential effect of my words, tone and manner.

We must not avoid sorrow. To allow sorrow to help us rediscover our truest, most noble desires and to move to a new level of resolve is good…really good. We must enter into our sorrows, letting them reveal what must be repented of and healed, allowing them change our hearts and lives. Godly sorrow leads to life…more life.

“The way you find your self”, Oswald Chambers said, “is in the fires of sorrow…Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness.”

Let’s walk together into the depths of our noble heart through the fires of sorrow,


14 Responses to “Fires of Sorrow”

  1. Mike Neill says:

    Amen. These are deep and true words. Some of the deepest, most painful sorrow I’ve experienced has brought me closer to my own heart, but only after I quit denying how much I was hurting and received permission to grieve. When we get isolated in our sorrow, it seems to compound, but when we share it, healing, transformation and grace abound … Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Sharon Regan-Williams says:


    This is so TRUE. Thank you!

  3. Richard says:

    As I read this I thought that I myself had written it. Yes, I have had many sorrows in my life (most you have listed), and I spend many years letting the sorrow take me out of life. Then through you and others I found the that embracing my sorrow offered new life and a life more fulfilling than anything I had know before. What I did find was my true heart and in that I found God’s heart for me which has been life altering and transforming. Like the Phoenix we truly can find new life by throwing ourselves and our sorrows into the fire to rise renewed. Your comments are on target and offer hope to many if they will just embrace the sorrow!

  4. Cynthia says:

    Very timely, Gary. I’ve been reading from three other sources of late about the contrast between “guilt” and “shame.” And how to “do” guilt “right.” Your article shows how Godly sorrow can bear fruit. We need to process these things, though obviously not wallow in them or allow self-condemnation (shame) to creep in. Very emotionally healthy, this God we serve!

  5. Gary this one really fits several people I know today. Yes, we can grow from our mistakes and yes we do deeply regret our actions which does cause sorrow but when we stay connected with God and allow HIM to FATHER us through our sorrow, we can accept HIS gifts of wisdom, compassion and regret for our mistakes in a healthy and Godly way and we can learn for future events that maybe if we would have brought HIM in to it in the first place, we wouldn’t have so much to regret and have sorry… Thanks!

  6. Scott Wilson says:


    Thank you for the reminder to use those sorrows to grow, evolve and help others when they hit a brick wall.


  7. John Bishop says:


    We all have our sorrows and our wounds. A source of hope in the midst of both of these has been to reframe these past experiences as needed preparation for what lies ahead. Regardless of its source or cause pain is the best preparation for the future challenges and difficulties.


  8. Really, really good for me to read today.

  9. Buz Mayo says:


    Timely post. Thank you. Reading your words does help. I found myself feeling ‘permission’ to experience the pain of regret. I was able to read this just after listening to that section in ‘The Horse & His Boy’ where Shasta is walking alone after his journey across the desert. The voice of the Lion he couldn’t see said, “tell me your sorrows”. I am glad to be reminded that “Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness.”

  10. Could be a more timely post. Yesterday we had to ask our 18-year old adopted son to find another place to live and he is gone and we do not know where he is. Yep I know sorrow and fear. As another brother in Christ who had to do the same thing with his adopted children said, I will “lean into the pain and find the arms of my Savior.” Can definitely say the shallowness is pretty much torched in the moment. Much of my encouragement comes from Psalms. If David, a man after God’s own heart, can express doubt (why do you hide your face from me Lord) and faith (Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble) in the same breath (psalm), then I can lean into and fully feel my sorrow and question God and trust God at the same time. Thanks Gary for this blog. It was both timely and helpful.

  11. I certainly dislike the fires of sorrow. But you are so right in their affect on our character and souls. I’d just like a little rain so they could die down a bit.

    Isaiah 43

    16 This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
    17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
    the army and reinforcements together,
    and they lay there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
    18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
    19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
    I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
    20 The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
    because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
    to give drink to my people, my chosen,
    21 the people I formed for myself
    that they may proclaim my praise.

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