Today I’ve been thinking about sorrow; about sadness and grief. I know, it sounds awful. What a sorry life I must live right? Just hold up a minute and you’ll understand.
I loved the new (can I still call it that?) Pixar movie Inside Out. I thought it was such an accurate description of how many of us treat sadness. We shove it away, push it aside and attempt to carry on with life, not realising that by repressing this vital emotion, we begin to numb ourselves to feeling anything.
I have always felt this kind of pressure within the church. I’ve felt the need to be happy all the time, to always have a smile on my face, no matter what I might be facing. After all, we are commanded to be joyful in suffering, are we not? The Bible tells us to rejoice and praise the Lord, no matter what our circumstances are.
I always thought that this meant that I was to be happy all the time. That I was to skip into church on a Sunday morning with a beaming smile on my face, even though my grandmother passed away the night before. That when someone asks, “How are you doing?” my answer was always to be, “Absolutely fantastic! God is so good!”
But yesterday I realised that this is not something that God expects of us.
Sadness is natural and healthy. It is a perfectly normal reaction to a world tarnished with sin and death and pain. Even Jesus experienced sadness and wept.
Times of sorrow are necessary. They are times of reflections. Times of looking at a broken world and knowing that it was never meant to be like this. Times of longing for something better. Tears may burn, but they also heal. They allow release of emotions that cannot always be expressed. They are not a sign of weakness (as I spent many years believing) but a sign of humanity.
You see, being joyful in suffering does not mean that no sorrow is experienced or expressed. Rather, it means that no matter how great the sorrow is, God is still praised, He is still trusted and He is still believed to be good. That is strength.
So next time you’re feeling hurt, depressed or just sad, don’t send Sadness away! Embrace it. Sigh. Cry it out. But through it all, keep your eyes on Jesus and His goodness and get back up. Fight another day.