Sorrow

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:30‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Is it possible to grieve, or make sorrowful, the Holy Spirit? As Christians, when we were saved by our acceptance of Jesus, His sacrifice at Calvary and repentance of our sins, we received the Holy Spirit and His power. To some it has been an amazing experience, a light bulb moment, a Damascus Road revelation. To others the Holy Spirit’s presence has been a gradual but significant in-filling. And through our Christian lives, there is a constant refilling, as we use the power within us in our service to God (Ephesians 5:18). 

Of course, there are sadly some Christians who deny His presence, but He is a gift from God, as we can read in Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

So as pilgrims, tramping our individual ways through life, we have the presence of God within us. Wouldn’t it be sad if we denied Him room within us? Wouldn’t that on its own be enough to make God sorrowful? God not only gave us the gift of salvation when we accepted Jesus, He also gave us the gift of His Spirit. Imagine on your birthday handing back a gift saying you didn’t want it – how would the giver feel? As wise pilgrims we accept God’s Gift with grateful hearts, making space within for His presence. Doing an internal spring-clean, moving the junk inside us into the garbage bin. But in our lives we will face into opportunities for disappointing the Holy Spirit. Perhaps through someone we meet. Or through what we watch on television or in a theatre. Or in our behaviour.  And He will then become sorrowful.

Paul goes on to remind us to remember. To remember who we belong to, whose children we are, the relationship we have with our Father in Heaven. And of course remembering that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our future. Earlier we read Ephesian 1:14, “The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”. So what is this inheritance that God promised? One day we will cross the Great Divide into His presence. Jesus called it Paradise during His brief conversation with the thief on the adjacent cross. 

So we pilgrims must be careful in the way we live. We can so easily make those around us sorrowful, with our behaviour, with our responses, or with our lack of love and care. And so it is with the Holy Spirit, except He lives within us. Even more in touch with us than our relatives or friends. Perhaps we should pray the prayer David did in Psalm 139, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life“. David knew, as Paul did, the importance, the necessity, of not making Him sorrowful. 

Jesus did so much for us at Calvary. He died for our sins. He gave us His righteousness. He then gifted us His Spirit. God, we’re so grateful! Please forgive us for the times when we have made You sorrowful. Please lead us into Your presence, day by day. Amen.

Tears in a Bottle

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” Psalms‬ ‭56:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Why would the Psalmist write that God collects all his tears in a bottle? To modern readers that will seem a bit strange, but in David’s day, as well as in other periods in history, there was apparently a custom of collecting tears, there being a variety of containers available for such a use. They were called lachrymatories and perhaps were a part of funeral arrangements.

But what did David mean when he wrote this verse? And is it relevant today? I think it first of all points to an intimate relationship between David and his Heavenly Father. At every opportunity he came into God’s presence, sharing what was happening at the time. The good times and well as the bad times. The times of laughter and joy, as well as the times of sorrow and grief. In this verse David was sharing a time of sadness, noting that God was keeping track of all the times a similar situation had occurred in his life. When this Psalm was written, David had been captured by the Philistines – the story can be found in 1  Samuel 21. He realised that he wasn’t in a safe place and pretended to be insane to escape. But in the midst of all this there was one place in which he couldn’t be touched – God’s presence.

So do we think that God keeps a register of all our sorrows? I think that depends on our relationship with Him. David had a full-on relationship with God – nothing held back, good or bad. But what about us? Is our relationship to God limited to a weekly recital of the Lord’s Prayer followed by a couple of hymns? Or do we too, like David, chatter away to our loving Heavenly Father at every opportunity, sharing our life with Him? Perhaps David spent more times in Heavenly places than on Planet Earth. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is a short verse, and it encourages us to, “Pray without ceasing“. I don’t believe it means we supply God with a continual shopping list of prayers. Rather, we must, like David, develop a conversational and intimate relationship – call it prayer if you like – with our Heavenly Father. Sharing all that is happening to us in our sinful world and receiving the encouragement and advice we need for living. And like David we too will, “….walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬.