Cuts from the Book, 1: Sorrow _And Sighing_ Will Flee Away

In writing my book, I actually ended up laying the groundwork for about 4 other books as well. I didn’t set out to do that, but I found that seeing the things I wanted to say over the next few years from the perspective of the whole enabled me to make this book better.

Thus, I’ve cut a lot out of the book. A lot of that will be the framework for future books, but some of it might be interesting on the blog as well.

So here’s a short section of what I cut from the chapter on suffering and productivity (“productivity in a fallen world”), but which I thought you might enjoy. The inspiration for this point was, I think, one day when I got in the shower, and the soap was gone. Then, when I walked down the hall to get more soap, the handle on the closet broke. It had already been a crazy week, and I thought “this is ridiculous; we don’t normally think of stuff like this as suffering, but it is super frustrating to have all this little stuff always go wrong.” At some point after that Isaiah 35:10 came to mind and the mention of “sighing” in that passage made sense.

Sorrow and Sighing Will Flee Away

In fact, there is a remarkable statement in Isaiah 35:10:

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Here’s what’s remarkable. The redemption of creation will be so comprehensive that not only sorrow will be gone, but so will sighing.

Sorrow here refers, obviously, to the big things: sadness and grief which we feel over great losses, especially the loss of a loved one.

Sighing, on the other hand, refers to small frustrations. When you walk down the hall to get another bar of soap from the closet, for example, and the handle on the closet door breaks as you open it. That’s a small frustration which has just created more work for you. When these sorts of small things happen, we often sigh. It’s not sorrowful and is incomparable to the major suffering going on in the world. But it is frustrating and is one more illustration of the fact that we are living in a comprehensively fallen world. And, when enough of these things add up, it’s demoralizing.

Isaiah is saying: there won’t even be the slightest hint of sighing in the new heavens and new earth. Everything will be so completely perfect that not only will sorrow be banished, but even the slightest degree of sighing as well. Everything will always go just as it should.

  • staffaction

    I fear we run the risk of sounding (and being?) pretentious when we speak of the little things as suffering. Yet think about it, it is often the little things that get us down (or build us up).

    What a view to have of the life to come. I imagine even there we will hardly have words to describe it will be so different, so much better.

  • Matt

    That’s exactly right–the small things add up and it’s mostly the cumulative effect that takes the toll. I found this especially to be the case when we began having kids.

    You probably saw this back when I originally posted it, where I go into the biblical definition of suffering and show how it includes lots of things we don’t automatically tend to think of as suffering. I find this super interesting:

  • staffaction

    I’ve been meaning to write on I Cor 13…love as described isn’t the big things…it’s the little things. I’ve never thought about it like that before.