Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. Genesis 37:34
It was an outward sign of an inward catastrophe. Perhaps a death or disaster in one's life. Perhaps a serious hindrance. The sackcloth told others that things were not going well and the fabric itself reminded the wearer of the seriousness of the trial they were facing. We face such trials in our walk as Christians. A real loss of a loved one. A failed marriage. Rebellious children. Jesus warned us:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
In this world we will have trouble indeed but how we react to it as Christians is important. When we lack the peace in our lives we so desperately desire, Jesus is saying to take heart because He has overcome the world and the problems you face in it. Too often however, we tend to react as "super-Christians." Someone asks how we are doing and we answer, "Blessed and highly favored!" While we are mourning on the inside. Are we blessed? Absolutely! Are we highly favored? Absolutely! But the Christian walk is not an exercise in the denial of feelings. The emotions we face are quite real. The mountains we have to climb are quite real. It is ok to be just as real as the crisis we are facing is. It is ok to put on our spiritual sackcloth.
The itchiness and uncomfortable nature of our spiritual sackcloth will be a reminder to us that while we are blessed and highly favored in general, we are hurting at this moment and are in need of the one true comforter:
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me: - John 15: 26 (ASV)
The Holy Spirit within each of us is our comforter. He will bear witness to us of the goodness of God the Father. He will testify to the lies the enemy whispers at our most vulnerable times. When the enemy whispers that God does not love us the comforter will bear witness to the great love the Father has given us:
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1John 3:1