(this is my response to a post by Ted Gossard, "Sadness and Grieving",
GRIEF AND JOY
I don’t know where people get the idea that Christians are to be joyful all the time -- or even that this is really possible. However, there’s a difference between being blissfully elated, and choosing to rejoice in the midst of trouble, just because God is mighty, and nothing is too difficult for him.
We are all made differently. Some people are so focused on themselves that they either can’t, or won’t, see that others are afraid or sad or grieving. Their whole world seems to revolve around their own need for attention. That isn’t good. Others of us are so sensitive we hurt too much and too often, both for ourselves and for others. But I would rather be a weeper identifying with the sufferings of God’s people, than a clod who didn’t, or wouldn’t CARE about anyone but “self”!
The Bible says God keeps our tears in a bottle. Also, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” So it isn’t “unChristian” to grieve. As we get older, many of us have “seen and heard too much”. Injustices, wars, selfishness, arrogance, pride, physical and mental and spiritual suffering. How could we not be affected enough to keep crying out to God for his mercy for us and for everyone?
Since I entered the world of blogging, I’ve been amazed at the number of people who describe their hurts and wounds. Some people have been through such horrendous experiences. How could we not mourn with them? Or identify with what they face? (Insofar as we’re able to grasp the emotions of their pain because we ourselves have hurt or grieved or suffered.)
When I hurt in any way, I want to cry out to God for help. While asking for his strength and help and mercy for me, I’m also trying to ask him to come to the assistance of everyone else who faces my kind of needs.
When I ache physically – that he might heal and touch and comfort and bless everyone with physical maladies.
When my energy is too low for bodily comfort – that he might strengthen and energize everyone who feels that way.
When I’ve lost sight of my hopes and dreams – that he may work out his dreams in me and in everyone else who has lost something precious.
When I’m confused, or broken-hearted – that he will bring clarity and comfort to all who need such ministries.
Joy, for me, is not a happy-go-lucky attitude. There is a sort of joy in ENDURANCE -- just having gotten through another day. Meanwhile, I need to ponder a heaven at the end of the road, where life will no longer be so tough. Where there will be no sorrow or pain or tears. It doesn’t come naturally to me to genuinely rejoice in the midst of deepest sorrows. I do, however, CHOOSE to attempt to be content in all things, trusting my Maker to lead me in his ways. That doesn’t mean my feelings always change to joyful thoughts. But yet will I ask him to enable me to praise him intention-ly, even when my feelings don’t line up.
“If you suffer with him, you shall reign with him.” In comfortable churches, I doubt if preachers preach on that text very often. (Though I imagine it’s a powerful theme in the persecuted church.) But it gives me hope that my joy doesn’t depend on having a naturally sunny outlook on life. But Jesus Christ is my joy.
How thankful I am that when we don’t know how to pray, when we don’t know how to feel “spiritual” (by our own definition) or emotionally joyful, that the Holy Spirit intercedes to the Father with groanings too deep for words. Thus, in my distress I participate in Christ’s sufferings – and hope in his resurrecting power. And even trouble or difficulty can become a place of worship and a way to turn more closely to Jesus Christ. I’m also thankful to consider that one day, “sorrow and mourning shall fade away.”
This post is linked to L. L. Barkat and Laura Boggess