I heard something in church yesterday that rocked my world: “Many people go to church seeking worldly sorrow. There is no power in that.” Omgosh, I love this. I love when I hear something that so aligns with my thinking.
But what is “worldly sorrow?” I think it’s the sympathy that I can conjure from people when I’m complaining about a situation…it’s that feeling that I get when I settle for the commiseration from people rather than the challenge to grow from God. It’s venting about a problem without really wanting a solution but rather wanting people’s pity.
But POWER is in acknowledging that we have a powerful God who wants to transform our lives, but we often settle for the temporary comfort of people’s sympathy. Why? Because to experience God’s power, something in ME must shift, and I have to be willing to give up control.
Why is whining and complaining about a situation so much easier than surrendering it to God and trusting Him with it? Is it because of our need for immediate gratification? Trusting God is a decision. It’s an act of faith and choosing peace. And the definition of faith is believing in something that we can’t see, so by definition, it’s not super tangible. Trust is so ambiguous. It doesn’t provide that same warm fuzzy feeling that we get when we tell our sob story (for the millionth time) to a group of people and get them all feeling sorry for us and telling us how unfair life is. I’m not gonna lie…when I’m suffering, and I’m whining about it, it feels darn good when I hear, “Oh poor you! That’s awful!” And yes, this is absolutely appropriate in certain situations. I’m not saying that we should never vent or seek counsel from trusted friends about struggles that we’re facing. I’m talking more about a pattern of behavior; a pattern of complaining and avoiding personal growth. It means that this feeling that I’m feeling right now, this sympathy that I’m getting from these people in this moment…that’s all I’m going to get. God wants to use this situation, this trial, this relationship, this challenge to friggin’ TRANSFORM ME, TRANSFORM my life, but I’m just gonna settle for this moment of getting errbody to take pity on poor me, cause doggone it, I deserve all this attention, and it feels darn good. There comes a time to OVERCOME.
Worldly sorrow, self-pity, and sympathy feel good in the moment and justify my feelings of the unfairness of the situation, but there is no transformative power in them, and they don’t require me to grow. They are also like taking a drug. They make me feel better for the short term, but the feeling is temporary. Soon I need another fix. Often we then surround ourselves with like-minded people who never quite get beyond the sorrow seeking and never actually grow or solve the problem. We run away whenever someone is brave enough to challenge us to stop complaining about the issue and “GET UP and WALK”, which is what Jesus most often said to people who came to Him for help. Many of us want to keep sitting and whining with our tribe of sitters and whiners.
What are some signs that you could be settling for worldly sorrow?
Are you constantly complaining about the same problem or relationship?
Do you want the circumstance to change or the person to change denying that YOU need to change?
Do you make excuses when someone is brave enough to challenge you, encourage you to grow or change?
Do you surround yourself with only people who let you stay stuck?
I want friends who challenge me and are brave enough to tell me when I need to stretch and grow. If they don’t do that, they’re not really friends. They are just people who don’t really want to grow and change either so they hang out with all the others who don’t want to change and grow.
What about you?