Sharing the Lord’s Heart – The ‘Bright Sorrow’ of Charmolype and ‘Lot’s Syndrome’

Jul 22, 2016 | INSIGHTS

hands clasped together in prayer for the nation

The ‘Bright Sorrow’ of Charmolype – and ‘Lot’s Syndrome’

Do you rulers (mighty ones) really say what is right and righteous? Do you judge people fairly (with integrity? (Ps. 58:1)

After the heavy burdens I have shared over the past couple of days on behalf of those suffering terribly in prison, and the injustices inflicted by so many rulers, it is a delight today to introduce you to a fascinating compound Greek word: Charmolype. Made up of ‘chara’ (joy and happiness) and ‘lipi’ (sadness and sorrow), we are sure to have experienced the the joy that takes us by surprise even in the midst of sadness, but also the sadness that can accompany our moments of great joy; like those special moment in people’s lives that they would love to have shared with a now departed loved one.

Life is made up of many seeming paradoxes that coexist thus together, the one giving rise to the other. As regards both the joy that the Lord Jesus Himself felt and feels, and His profound sorrow over so much that is wrong, Father Breck intriguingly suggests rendering the word Charmolype by the phrase “bright sorrow.”

Charmolype enables us to receive the joy of the Lord that is our strength, whilst also sharing in the Lord’s own deep concern and sadness for those afflicted by any kind of setback or tragedy; those for whom doors have unexpectedly shut, those who realise they have made a mess of things . . .

The list is endless but the principle is clear: “In all their distress, He too is distressed” (Is. 63:9).

Lord Jesus, as we feel acutely Your grief for all who are hurting, and over all that is out of synch and kilter, and even downright wrong, help us to walk in the way of both Your profound joy and yet to share Your deep and godly sorrow. Enlarge my heart’s capacity to look beyond my own little world and to see people and things more from Your perspective. Make me willing to embark more fully, on this path of mourning for the people and things that You are mourning for.

For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears . . . (2 Cor. 2:4)
Many pastors concerned for the purity of their flocks, and prophets and intercessors burdened for the wellbeing of the people and the places that God has put on their hearts, will identify deeply with Paul as he expresses his pain in the verse above, deeply grieved at all that is amiss and out of synch in both the people and the situations that they care about.

Peter writes of something similar when he speaks of Lot as “a righteous man who was tormented in his righteous soul by the wickedness he saw and heard every day” (2 Pet. 2:7-8). I have long since christened this willingness to share in the Lord’s sorrow as “Lot’s Syndrome.”

There is a call here to share in what I have come to recognise as joyful mourning, deep, deep fulfilment in the Lord’s presence even as we share with Him matters of intense grief. This is what theologians call a profound “antimony:” two things that are apparently incompatible – in this case joy and mourning – flowing together perfectly.

How can we not experience genuine sadness as we recognise the mistakes that we and others have made . . . the opportunities that have been missed and the consequences that these have entailed for others? And yet, as the writer of Lamentations found, there is always hope, for hope is always present in God’s heart. (cf Lam. 3:21-29 HL). The call is to harness these strong emotions to cry out to God with still more determination for Him to move by the power of His Spirit.

Whether it is concern for an individual afflicted by tragedy or for nation; those for whom doors have unexpectedly shut or who realise they have made a mess of things . . . “In all their distress, He too is distressed” (Is. 63:9).
In His love He does not see things as it were from the outside. He feels strongly _from the inside_ all the distress victims feel, as well as all the longings that people have for good and for God.

In Intensifying our prayer life, I celebrated the truth that mourning is a vital part of true spirituality. I highlighted the verses, “It is ‘better to enter the house of mourning than of joy’ and that it is ‘better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting,’ because ‘the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning whereas the heart (some translations say ‘the mind;’ or ‘the thoughts’ of fools is in the house of mirth and sensual joy’ (Ecc. 7:2, 4).

To the fool any thought of such mourning is an unwelcome hindrance and a hindrance to his pursuit of pleasure at all costs.

There are many times when laughter and genuine enjoyment of good things can be the best medicine. CS Lewis described real enjoyment as a shield that the powers of darkness know no way to penetrate. It reduces stress, boosts the immune system and helps to heal broken hearts. It is also a wonderful antidote to fear and self-absorption.

I am seeking here, however, to draw our attention to something entirely different. As Henri Nouwen laments in _The Return of the Prodigal Son,_
‘There are so few mourners left in this world. I am beginning to see that much of prayer is grieving. Love cannot bloom without those who are prepared to see the sins of the world. The grief is so deep not just because the human sin is so great but also – and more so – because the divine love is so boundless. To become like the Father, whose authority is compassion, I have to shed countless tears and so prepare my heart to receive anyone, whatever their journey has been, and forgive them from that heart.’ (p 115)

Because the Holy Spirit was and is deeply grieved by our behaviour (Is. 63:10, Lam. 2:1-6), it is a sign of His work when repentance cuts in amongst God’s people (Lam. 3:40-42; John 16:7-11), for repentance changes what God intends to do. That is why He is looking for people who are contrite: (the word daka means crushed or bruised, in the Hebrew. (Jer. 44:10; cf Isaiah 53:5.)

The Lord’s verdict against Sodom was that it was “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned” (Ezekiel 16:49). Does He not see and say the same of us in the West?

As the news brings up such endless sequences of disturbing images and acts of violence, may the Lord draw certain specific matters to our attention so that we can use them as a spur and springboard to move into praying for the wider issues that they represent.

Lord, we long for Your name to be honoured in our land! Forgive us that we have pushed You to one side, as if you were an inconvenience in Your own world.

Forgive us our pride and self-satisfaction. Lead us into richer, deeper expressions of our hearts concern as individuals, families, communities and nations, seeking more to serve and honour others than just to impose our own will and preferences.

You do not ask more of me than You know that I am capable of bearing. – but You do direct me to consider pressing issues from around the world. As we recognise Your warnings being fulfilled in front of our eyes, (cf Jer. 7:16, 11:14, 14:11) help us to take on board the full awareness of things that are grieving You, and yet without allowing these to overwhelm me.

Thank You that You do not always keep me in the wrestling ring or on the sharp end of the sadness things associated with labouring on the soul front to rescue people from the surrounding darkness – but where You do lead let me follow. May Your Spirit stir up the prayers and mourning that spring from Your heart and which rise to touch Your throne room in Heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


















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