Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

I am worn out from sobbing.
     All night I flood my bed with weeping,
     drenching it with my tears.

I
grew up in a culture, church, and family that didn’t have much room for
sadness. If ever people in my life were feeling sad, it was my
responsibility to “cheer them up.” As Christians, we knew we were
supposed to “Rejoice in the Lord, always!” God was the one who wiped
away every tear. Thus, sadness was inconsistent, not only with our
cultural norms, but also with our understanding of authentic
Christianity. Real Christians were happy, not sad. They always had
smiles on their faces. And they certainly didn’t drench their beds with
their tears.

Of course, there was a problem with the cultural assumptions of my
early years. People did get sad. And sometimes their sadness seemed
unavoidable, if not reasonable. Beloved friends and family members
might get sick and die. Our nation watched as tens of thousands of our
young men died in Vietnam. Wasn’t it appropriate to feel sad sometimes?

The notion that true Christians aren’t ever sad also stumbles upon
teaching and examples of Scripture. Many of the psalms, for example,
express deep sadness to the Lord, without sense of shame. In Psalm 6:6,
for example, David prays, “I am worn out from sobbing. All night I
flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.” Now that is
serious sadness, even if it does reflect a poetic use of hyperbolic
language.

If the Psalms are given to us to teach us how to communicate with
God, then there is surely a place for sadness in authentic
Christianity. Scripture invites us to be honest with God, to share
what’s really going on inside of us. The Lord will carry our sorrows as
we offer them to him, without hiding or pretending.

Moreover, authentic Christian community includes a place for shared
sadness. Remember Paul’s instruction in Romans 12:15. We are to “be
happy with those who are happy” and “weep with those who weep.” If
someone we care about is grieving, our job is not to “cheer them up,”
but rather to join them in their sorrow, and in this way to bear their
burdens. As we do this, we come to know more deeply the heart of Jesus,
who is “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isa 53:3).
Moreover, when we deal openly with our sadness, as well as the sadness
of others, we open our hearts to a deeper and fuller experience of
God’s joy.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Did your culture,
family, and church teach you about sadness? Are you free to share your
sorrows with the Lord? And with other believers? What helps you express
your true feelings to God in prayer?

PRAYER:
Thank you, merciful God, for the example of David in Psalm 6. Thank you
for the invitation to speak with you honestly, not holding back our
sadness or desperation.

Thank you, dear Lord, for hearing our prayers just as they are, for
wanting to have an intimate relationship with us in all of our
messiness and confusion.

Thank you, gracious God, for entering into our sorrow through Christ, for knowing the inside of sadness.

Thank you, O God, for meeting us in our pain, for offering peace
that passes understanding, for turning our mourning into dancing.

Help us to be authentic in our relationship with you, sharing our
true thoughts, feelings, fears, and hurts. Help us to weep with those
who weep so that we might also rejoice with those who rejoice. May your
church be a place of safety and freedom, where broken hearts are mended.

We pray in the name of Jesus, the man of sorrows. Amen.

_________________________________________________

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This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.

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