- Dr. Stieglitz
Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 14:13
"Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief"
This is the Hebrew word sahawq which means laughter; play; also at times, mock. Sahaq is a form of Isaac which is what Sarah did when God promised that she, at her age, would have a child. This word is supposed to be the opposite of weeping, e.g., Ecclesiastics 3:4; but in this particular proverb it is being used as a surface veneer which covers over deep pain. Solomon is saying that it is possible for the clown to really be covering great pain.
This is the Hebrew word leb which is the common word for heart or the inner part of mankind. It is the soul of the person. It is crucial to understand that it is the soul that determines the life we live, not the external or material pleasures that we are experiencing. The state of your soul in its relationships, joy, pain, and peace will determine whether you have a life worth living. If you live a life filled with material pursuits, then your life may look prosperous but it will be shallow and unfulfilling eventually. It is tragic when a person "gains the whole world but loses their soul."
This is the Hebrew word kaab which means to have pain, be sore, or have grief. This word can be used to refer to all kinds of pain; it does have an emphasis on internal or soul pain. One's heart hurts, such as through the loss of a loved one or a divorce or a betrayal or an emotional wound.
I am discovering more and more that it is important that people learn how to process pain, and that they not try and cover it up or deny that they are in pain or medicate their pain. America, in specific, and Western Civilization has forgotten to teach people that pain is a part of a fallen world and how to deal with it when it comes into your life. There will be pain. You must know how to deal with it.
There is a major gap in our educating youth (and everyone else also) in terms of how to process pain well. Pete Scazzero in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, and his lectures on that subject suggest that the church has always taught that God has a three-fold process for dealing with pain. This is a simple outline which allows people to understand the framework of a way to process when pain comes calling.
First: One must pay attention to your pain. Don't deny it, don't run from it, don't medicate it. Pay attention to it in that you express it, you feel it, you embrace it (pain is present because something is not as it should be), you get angry, you write your thoughts, you sing or pray or lament. This period in ones life may take a day to months as the severity of the pain dictates.
Second: One must live in the in-between time – the time between the new future and the past love and joy. The Bible speaks of this as the wilderness aspects of life – when you are leaving Egypt and have not yet come to Canaan. You go through a wilderness. This is when that "field" in your life lays fallow. We all have nine relationships in our life, and it is impossible for each of these relationships to be bearing fruit all the time. There will be times when each of the relationships is having a downtime; a time when it is not producing huge measures of joy in your life. In fact, it is a time when that relationship is barren and desolate. This is what happens when there is pain.
Third: We need to let the old die and embrace the new beginning. There will be a time when God will be sending new sprouts into the field that was dead. God will send new people to have relationships with. There is a tendency to hang onto the past and reject the new because it is not as developed as the relationships and joys of the past. We will have to put energy and time into this new thing to make it become something. Some just wallow in their pain and refuse to let the new start.
Each of these phases is so important and the lessons and time of each is important. Memorize these phases so that when you suffer a significant loss or have great pain, you can realize that it is important to process this pain. It is not okay to just try and get over this in a day or two.
One of the things that Solomon is saying in this proverb is that laughter and even excess celebration is a way of hiding or medicating great pain. Don't let that happen to you and don't always believe that the life of the party is having a party in their soul.
This is the Hebrew word sameah which means joy, glad times, deep elation. Joy in the Scriptures is a function of depth of relationships. The depth of connection between a believer and God is the strength of the believer’s life: The joy of the Lord is my strength. A deep bond between a man and a woman brings meaning and life to one’s existence as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes. A connection of skill and accomplishment gives great joy at work. In each of the nine relationships of life this is true. Joy springs from depth of relationship.
Notice what Solomon says here. The end of joy may be grief. This is soooo true. Many times it is grief that ends joy. There is separation, death, loss of the relational joy due to no fault of your own; and this turns great joy into grief. In fact, some – in order to protect themselves from great grief and pain – have vowed to only have surface relationships, but this is not an answer either. One does not live in the wilderness so that no new pain will come intruding in. It is a fact of life that which we grow close to and gives us great joy can be taken from us in this sinful world. The world is not as it should be since mankind's rebellion, and the principle of selfishness and sin has been introduced into a world that does not want it. God's grace is sufficient for us. He walks with us through the pain to teach us and develop us. He has chosen the pathways of pain and suffering to make us more than we could be without them.
This is the Hebrew word yagon which means sorrow, anguish, grief. Affliction and pain and loss and limits and grief are an expression of the fact that something is not as we wanted it to be or even as it should be. The reality is not living up to our expectations or even what is right. The gap between our expectation and reality and the depth of the relationship is the measure of your grief.
No one likes grief, pain, loss, or limits; but they are a fact of life and one must be prepared to deal with them. Solomon is trying to get us ready to handle what life will throw at us. Life will throw great joy but also sorrow and pain. Sometimes joy is slammed shut by the door of great pain.