Sometimes I wake up sad and I can’t really put my finger on the reason behind my melancholy. Maybe you can relate.
Maybe it’s because I didn’t get enough sleep. Maybe it’s because I can often enter the day feeling behind even before my feet even hit the floor. I reach to turn off the alarm; as my hands stumble to place my glasses on the bridge of my nose, my poor vision is adjusted to 20/20, and the first sighting of the day involves notifications from my iPhone reminding me of tasks left undone, appointments looming, and emails that still demand action and response (the drawback of using an iPhone as my alarm).
The mind, the body, and the soul long for rest. I yearn for a joy and peace so deep that it can’t be touched by my circumstances. But the truth is, on this side of heaven, there is sorrow.
Sometimes, we don’t even know why.
Occasions of Sorrow
I’m learning to embrace the reality that sadness is a normal part of life: even (and perhaps, especially) for the Christian.
The Apostle Paul described himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). Those four words, bound together, provide me so much clarity and hope. There’s a paradox in the Christian life: those with the most joy can also carry the greatest sorrow.
How can we be real, and human, if we don’t admit that we’ve been marked in so many ways by the hurt and the pain and the sorrow we’ve experienced and witnessed as pilgrims passing through this fallen world, on the way to our heavenly home? It’s unrealistic to think that we will be unaffected by the sorrows that surround us. Sometimes it serves the soul to just admit the sadness and for the tears to roll, even as the sun is shining.
I once heard an older man say, “I have no regrets.” To be completely honest, I don’t understand that comment. Maybe it’s because I’m wired differently, but I’m only 37 and I already have so many regrets. There’s so much I would change, if I could turn back the hands of time. Yet, in a very real sense, I thank God for every painful experience. I know Him better as a Redeemer as a result.
If you’ve lived long enough, you know the feeling of having your mind hijacked by memories you would rather forget. Pictures of our past can narrate the story of a season full of painful experiences. A song can fill the air with a melody that reminds us of our sinful past. We can drive by a location that retells the story of a conversation that has never been fully resolved. It lingers there, haunting each passing of that address.
A simple comment can tempt the heart to meander back through a maze of mysterious difficulties that may never be fully explained in this life. Friendships fade. Brotherhood can be broken. Distance brings difficulties. Saints suffer, and loved ones leave us lingering here through the lisps of their last breaths.
In this world, sad things happen, and I’m learning that it’s ok to be sorrowful. It’s ok to admit that we don’t fully understand the perplexing providences of the path we’ve journeyed through. It’s even ok to have some sense of sadness that is always residing in the deepest recesses of our souls. The Apostle Paul did.
Sometimes we’ll wake up discouraged and we don’t even know why. It’s not realistic to avoid all sadness. Here’s what’s more realistic:
To be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10).
A Foundation of Joy
In the midst of the occasions of sadness, there is a strong, unbreakable foundation of joy for every believer. There is more to our story than our sorrow.
Perhaps that’s what makes the joy of a battle-worn believer so beautiful. It’s not a fake joy. It’s not a facade. It’s for-real.
That’s the kind of joy I want to have – It’s the smile on the face of a dear friend who is trusting God as he undergoes treatments to battle his leukemia. It’s the joy that admits that this life is really hard and we get really sad at times, but we stand on the unshakable Rock of our Redeemer.
For the one in Christ, each sad moment or memory is an invitation to commune with Jesus, the Man of Sorrows. He was well acquainted with grief, and he is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way, as we are, yet without sin. He knows our sorrows. He knows our pain, and He holds the key to our joy. He can lead us down the path that proclaims “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”
We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. We rejoice in the life to come, when everything will be made right. We rejoice in The Lord; we rejoice in his grace; we rejoice in his goodness; we rejoice in his forgiveness; we rejoice in our salvation, and we rejoice that our names are written in heaven. That much is secure, regardless of the sorrow.
You may be sad today. If so, take heart.
In the midst of your sorrow, may you rejoice in Your Savior and in his great love.
There is more to our story than our sorrow
The Man of Sorrows is our Savior
and our friend
We can rest secure, by faith,
and take all our troubles to him