2 Corinthians 6:9-10
As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;…
I. WE ALL WANT TO FIND A WAY OF SO MINGLING SORROW AND JOY TOGETHER, THAT NEITHER SHALL CONTRADICT OR WEAKEN THE OTHER. You see people hugging a sorrow, feeding upon it. The wild cry of Constance, "Grief fills the room up of my absent child," has been the cry of many a mother. You perceive that such indulgence is morbid and dangerous; but you take, in general, very unsatisfactory methods of curing it. You try to dissipate the patient's mind, to present other objects which may cause the object on which it dwells to be forgotten. Often you succeed. But something is destroyed which should have been preserved. The waters of Lethe are not those which purge the spirit. They take away much that is best and strongest in it; they leave weeds and mud behind. Depend upon it, sorrow has that in it which we need and cannot afford to part with. He is a thief and an enemy who would take it from us. This is so, whatever be the occasion of the sorrow. Do not say, "This is a poor, mean occasion for a man to grieve about." The loss is a calamity. The grief for it is a gift which you may turn into a curse or into a blessing. An illustrious historian said that he could discover in eminent men, of various periods, an impoverishment and decay of heart and intellect, dating from a crisis of their lives, when they had wilfully thrown off some great sorrow which might have given them consistency and depth. The question is, whether we shall merely nurse sorrow as if it were a warrant for misanthropy, or accept it as a message from above to teach us more of our relations to other men and of our relation to God. In this sense Paul was always sorrowing. There is not a trace in any of his Epistles of morbidness. He is always in action. He is thinking, feeling for others. In one sense he "forgets the things that are behind." He determines that they shall not impede him. But in another sense, nothing is forgotten. All is coloured and shaped by his own previous experiences. What he has suffered enables him to look with straight eyes upon the suffering of the world. He regards it as a sign of derangement in that which is divinely good; therefore it makes him mourn. He regards it as one of the instruments for removing that which is deranged; therefore it cannot make him despair. St. Paul learnt to sorrow when he learnt to hope. He knew the anguish of conscience before; but he did not know sorrow till he had a revelation of One who cared for him, mourned for him, died for him. There then arose upon him the vision of a Man of Sorrows; and now he could desire nothing better than to enter into the mind of Christ.
II. A MAN WHO IS ALWAYS SORROWING IN THIS WAY, MUST BE ALSO ALWAYS REJOICING. Such a weight of sorrow could only have been sustained by a joy that was commensurate with it.
1. We all confess this truth in one way or another. The most frivolous person says, "I have had much trial of late; I must have more than ordinary pleasure that I may endure it." We often denounce such language, but there is a meaning in it, though an inverted one. The joy which we seek for to quench sorrow, is on the whole a poor flimsy joy; not the joy which penetrates far below the surface. That joy which lies at the very root of our being, which is as necessary for human life as moisture is for vegetable life — that joy which, amid the frosts of the world, would perish utterly if Heaven did not watch ever it — that joy does not seek to escape from sorrow, but encounters it and finds its own strength in enduring it. g. As Paul found in the Son of Man the climax of all human sorrow, so he owned in that same Son of Man and Son of God the source and climax of all human joy. As he recollected what the work of the Sorrower on earth had been — how every act He had done was to take away some disease, some death-anguish, it was not possible but that he should believe that there was another cup besides that which His Father had given Him, and which He drained to the dregs. Every hour that Jesus was walking among men He was giving them some foretaste of this joy, some token that He came to make them inheritors of it. But there was a special hour in which we are told He rejoiced in His own Spirit (Matthew 11:25-27). I think I read here the secret of St. Paul's continual joy in the midst of his continual sorrow.
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;