Unbearable Sorrow

I want to share a bit on a topic that has been on my mind since I read a post that my friend Jill Hollis wrote about her gut-wrenching battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Here is an excerpt from her post:

"I believe that this life is full of the unbearable. Often unimaginable heartbreaking pain and suffering."

Reminds me of this line from The Impossible Dream, that beautiful anthem from Man of La Mancha:

"To bear with unbearable sorrow. And to run where the brave dare not go"

The words take me back to that Intensive Care Unit where I, along with my two young children, watched my first wife breathe her last breaths. Sometimes our sorrow is so unbearable. Often life presents us with seemingly impossible circumstances. And sometimes it feels like God is not there.

But on that occasion. As Ellen was slipping off to a new life. A nurse walked in and asked if she could sing Amazing Grace. Ellen's favorite song. With tears rolling down our faces we witnessed the passing of our beloved wife and mom. The song made our sorrow a bit more bearable.

I don't really have any answers to the question of intense sorrow other than to say that life is often riddled with pain and suffering. But I think that in the midst of our pain God sometimes reveals Himself in unusual ways. I think of this verse from the book of Hebrews that speaks of angels:

"Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?"

The word Greek word translated "angel" is sometimes translated "messenger". Perhaps that nurse with the beautiful voice was one of those messengers? Perhaps one of the purposes of angels, be they heavenly or earthly, is to help us bear the unbearable? Perhaps the admonition to bear one another's burdens or sorrows is a primary reason for our existence? Perhaps sorrow is unbearable without angels?

Thank you Lord for the angels in our lives.

- originally posted in September 2009


  1. This reminds me of the story behind the old classic It is Well With My Soul.


  2. Thanks Mike.. I had not heard that story.. it is very moving.

  3. How wonderful of your Heavenly Father, who knew your sorrow, to send that woman at that time and Praise God that it was someone who not only heard, or felt, God's prompting, but obeyed. Oh, that we might all be that intune and that willing to let HIM use us as HE leads.

  4. I sometimes think that there is something angelic about nurses Susan.. but to come across one with that kind of voices has to make you wonder :)

  5. Bob,

    That post was on my heart for a while. I wrote it a week after a couple at our church lost their 4 month old baby. Their loss was heavy and continues to be heavy on my heart.

    The nurse singing Amazing Grace while your wife passed is a beautiful sight to imagine.

  6. Hi Bob,

    I don't often comment, but your Psalms Prayer blog and An Eye for Redemption help to make life more bearable for me! God uses them often to gently pull me out of myself and my troubles and to refocus on Him and the bigger picture.

    BTW, Randy Alcorn just published a book called "If God is Good" which primarily focuses on suffering and its role in the life of a believer. He also has a blog I find very worthwhile.




  7. THIS POST is probably why you're the guy I dumped on with my current junk.

  8. That was so beautiful. And i believe the nurse was an angel whether earthly or heavenly, definately sent by God to help you and your children bear the pain. Recently a christian friend of mine was going through a sad time. She lives in a unit with a small courtyard at the back and a white fan-tailed pidgeon turned up and we believe it is a sign from God to comfort her as she lives alone. Two weeks later it looks like he's decided to take up permanent residency in her coutyard. This pidgeon is a great comfort to her and the fact that he symbolicly looks like the Holy Spirit is a real blessing.


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