Spreading Sorrow

“For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” [Ecclesiastes 1:18]

There is an interesting paradox found within that verse. Not many people would argue with that sentiment, yet it would be a pretty safe wager to bet that most of the same people who agree with that verse are daily opting for the sorrow of knowing over the bliss of ignorance.

Further confusing things in my own case are two recent situations where I was presented with a choice of whether or not to dispense knowledge in order to dissuade someone from an illusion that they were living under.

In the first case, I let loose with the information. They were under one impression of things, and I quickly let them know that they were sadly mistaken. I almost immediately felt bad about it.

In the second instance, I kept my mouth shut. I let the person keep their illusion intact, let the lie continue to perpetuate itself, and I strangely felt like that was the right decision.


I have a hard time determining whether there really is merit in allowing a bubble to remain unburst, or if I just dislike being the bearer of bad news.

Being the glutton for sorrow that I apparently am, I was hoping that I could get some feedback in the comments to help me in increasing my knowledge.

17 thoughts on “Spreading Sorrow

  1. Tough question….
    It’s probably the answer you don’t want to hear, but I think it’s situation dependant. And of course, that’s me wanting to take the easy way out…..

    So I’ll add a couple more thoughts that come to my mind….. I have often found that letting the lie continue to perpetuate itself can be the best decision, although usually not the easiest. I say the best because it often proves to be the most productive, in spite of the time it takes to see results. I often find that people will not hear a thing until they are ready to hear it. I have also often found that experiences and/or consequences are the only thing someone will listen to.

    The caveat, though, is that if there is harm in letting the lie continue, then it may be best to stop it.

    Of course, I don’t know the situation you are speaking of, so my thoughts may not apply.

    • “people will not hear a thing until they are ready to hear it”

      I have definitely found that to be the case. It has definitely been my stance on many of the church issues that I have spoken about here that if you haven’t been given eyes to see it, then it sounds like insanity, but once you have, a lot of it quickly (or not so quickly) falls into place.

      Your caveat is really hard to define, or maybe it isn’t… Maybe if you have to try too hard to legitimize the hurt a lie is causing, then you have let yourself know that it might not have been necessary to uncover it.

      I don’t recall if you were in pxp when the info started coming out, but the Gospel for Asia stuff comes to mind for me on this subject, though it falls much easier into the obvious hurt category. There were A LOT of people that would have much preferred that none of that information had come out, and they could have continued to cheerfully give under the impression that it was a solid organization.

  2. I think whenever we display honesty, we will always feel a sense of sadness or even guilt if we are worried what others think of us. Further we will always be the bad guy. Anyone who rocks the boat or causes a conflict will be the problem, in a sense. You are at odds with the flow of things. You’ve upset the balance. That doesn’t mean all times are good times to do so but it does mean you might always have a sense of feeling bad. I have no idea if that helps but it’s what came to mind when I read this.

    • I’m thinking it loud here a little bit, but I think it falls somewhat under the category of what I was saying in the keeping your hands to yourself post. Allowing the Spirit to work in the situation, and sometimes you have been given the life experiences necessary to properly digest a truth that another might choke on.

      I think that most people have that impulse to be liked, but in my case I think that the impulse I need to watch out for is my need to be right even if it might cause sorrow to another.

      • I feel that way with my inlaws! I just want to smack them over the head with truth. Well they are completely backwards and maddening but why waste my energy on the unnecessary? I can’t debate every thing or confront every wrong. Some things they need to own. And I agree, it requires wisdom and walking with Christ, listening for that still small voice. I’m not always good at the times he tells me to bite it. Interestingly, my son learned in science that the strongest muscle is called the Masseter. We should all exercise that muscle a little more. It’s the muscle that keeps our mouth shut.

  3. Elle, I have to agree with you. And when it causes conflict, you often have not been heard…..

    On a different note, your blog site doesn’t appear to be working, I’ve tried a couple different machines and browsers. Error message says “warning, fatal error, no such file or directory”

  4. The book of ecclesiastes used to royally depress me, but it is now a treasure trove of information that i can read and reread.. Of course, my background, or our background, was moreso we didnt want to know the truth. “You can’t handle the truth!” because life was hard enough as it was trying to muddle through the chaos and lies that seem to prevail throughout all of society. Where to begin with such a tangled web? What lie to break down first? What issue to tackle first? it all can be so overwhelming of a mess, that it’s easier to just avoid the whole s***storm and choose ignorance. Choose bliss. That’s yet another LIE that our culture has perpetuated through media. That we cant handle the truth, take the easy route, avoid anything that feels uncomfortable. In fact, it’s when we feel the most discomfort is when we are actually growing the most, developing character virtues (that i love to point out..ha!)-but it’s true! I wish we could develop endurance, patience, heck-even compassion through easy times-but..sadly..no..it’s only by going through difficult times do we come out tried, tested, purified. i THANK GOD that He revealed something better to me than this prevailing mindset, i thank God that He put eternity on my heart and will make everything beautiful in it’s time (ecclesiates 3:11)-Thank you, Jesus. That He made me to go to funerals, quite literally, -so that i can TAKE IT TO HEART (ecclesiates 7:2) and consider my ways. Consider my ways. (haggai 1:5)Consider how, exactly, i live my life. Consider my values, priorities, vision (proverbs 29:18-with lack of vision, my people perish). Anyway..i slightly digress. I could probably write a dissertation on this subject-on why and how i used to live the opposite of this, how society CHOOSES to go the other way..and yet..there is so much freedom in knowledge. It requires much discipline, yes, but so much freedom. So, the blessed holy spirit tells us as a gift so that we dont die before our time (job 36:12). Length of days and years of life and peace they will add -proverbs 3:2 and proverbs 9:11 wisdom will multiple your days and add years to your life..and hosea 4:my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge… We all want to live at peace and add days, even years to our life, but it comes with a cost because of the fall. It’s not always easy. Yet- Increase knowledge, increase sorrow. Increase wisdom, add peace. Meditate on that. When the knowledge translates to wisdom, we can be filled with peace perhaps in spite of the sorrow that may sometimes come with knowledge.. I think it’s helpful to know the vantage that solomon wrote Ecclesiastes from, as well-at the end of his life, after he strayed. He was a man with 700 wives , 300 concubines..so perhaps at the end of his life with some regret. He knew what it was like to have money, women, pleasure, have it ALL-and boy did it bring much sorrow to him at the end of his life. He ended the book with “fear the lord and obey His commandments” because solomon, himself, strayed much.
    Back to your original request, HAHAH!-i 100 percent agree with owen.If there is harm, then we should do well to let them know otherwise. (the guy last night going door to door telling me about planned parenthood? Let ME tell you about the history of planned parenthood..He was shocked to hear about margaret sanger. I truly hope it opened his eyes and he changes his affiliation as I did a while ago..things are not as they seem) It is totally situation dependent. I think that’s where being in constant prayer about it, praying for discernment, when to speak, when to listen. Not spreading sorrow, spreading LIGHT, TRUTH, LOVE. I’d like to share news to set people FREE! For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten son! That whosoever believe should not die but have eternal life! Let’s set the captives free with the gospel of peace that is sharper than any double edged sword. God bless you and forgive my ramblesomes 🙂

    • Part of what you wrote, I think, addresses a related issue. We have access to so much information that it can be crippling. Sometimes we have to embrace at least a little bit of ignorance just for our own sanity. We can be given the perception that we can drill down far enough to make the perfect choice, and that way lies madness, you always find yourself trying to brush away another level of deception… I would still be interested in that guest post you were talking about ;).

      The context of the life of Solomon is a good one. He made a worthy request of God, but I wonder if he realized exactly what he was signing up for. There may be some base level of wisdom that could have been downloaded into Solomon’s head by God, but for the most part wisdom doesn’t work that way. Asking for wisdom is asking for trials and suffering.

      I love the way that you ended your comment. Even if knowledge brings sorrow, the ultimate knowledge that we have been caused to spread is that of the one who has purchased us joy.

  5. Dswoager,
    “, and sometimes you have been given the life experiences necessary to properly digest a truth that another might choke on.”

    —-that’s a really good point. Again, wisdom is needed there…..

    Another good point made by Momo – prayer. And for me it often comes down to praying that my motives for speaking would be examined.
    And I guess that also applies to motives for staying silent as well.

    • I’m not exactly sure how to put my motivations into words, but I have a hard time when people I know throw reverence at people who really don’t deserve it. That impulse of “if you knew what I knew about that guy” is one that I have to fight with because it isn’t always helpful.

      Pretty sure there is a dash of pride, hopefully righteous anger… not quite sure what else, might have to look further into that one.

  6. “if you knew what I knew about that guy”…..
    Yeah, that does get tossed around. I think it’s good for understanding someone, but almost never for excusing.
    I have had to educate a couple of people at church regarding my wife’s mental illness, and subsequent behaviour that sometimes seems odd to people.
    Don’t get me started on how mental illness is treated in the church, I kinda turn into the Hulk ….. 😉

  7. I mean it more on the pastor/celebrity worship end of things, but I could see it there as well.

    As far so mental health and other issues in the church, shame seems to be drug of choice for things they don’t understand or find inconvenient.

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