“Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief, yet Western Christians, on the whole, remain emotionally allergic to sadness and discomfort. We do anything we can to avoid it” ~ Shannan Martin
Paul said he was, “As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing”.
Sorrow, grief, sadness, depression, struggle, these are not words we like to make part of our every day vocabulary. We don’t like to use them to update our status, talk about them on our Instagram stories, drop them casually in conversation when someone at church asks us how we are.
Why are we so afraid of sadness?
It’s almost as if we’ve decided that it’s wrong. If you’re sorrowful, you’re not counting it all joy, so you’re wrong. Yet, Jesus described His soul as exceeding sorrowful. The night before facing His crucifixion, He told His closest friends how sorrowful He was and asked them to sit with Him.
I have a hard time telling people I’m having a hard day, let alone asking them to sit with me.
Last week we talked about counting it all joy and how that means a deep trust in spite of the sadness. As Christians we’ve gotten good at reminding people to count it all joy. That nothing is wasted. That the joy of the Lord is our strength. We talk about victory and hope and joy.
But I also want to become better at sitting with sadness.
When Jesus was at His darkest hour, He asked the disciples to sit with Him. Jesus told them His soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. He was asking for support. For comfort. For someone to just sit with Him in His grief.
He didn’t ask them to fix it. Or to fix Him. There was no fixing anything. It just was. It was just sorrow.
And they fell asleep.
I feel the same way about sadness. My own and others. I would rather just go to sleep than sit in it. If I’m sleeping, I don’t share in the pain. If I’m sleeping, I can just give a quick hug and a platitude and move on. If I’m sleeping, I can pretend it’s all okay. If I’m sleeping I don’t have to do the hard work of dealing with it.
But to sit in the midnight hour, whether my own, or someone else’s…that’s where the work is. That’s where the tears fall. That’s where acknowledging the sadness in the world can be overwhelming.
This is what I want to learn. I want to learn how to hold both. How to sit in the midnight hour. But also how to sit there with so much trust that I count it all joy. That the midnight hour doesn’t scare me. That it doesn’t make me escape into sleep. But that I sit there. I hold that sadness. And then I count it joy.
To learn to be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.