Recently I had to deal with a couple of crushing disappointments. First, a setback in a close friendship made my heart ache with sadness. Next, a disappointment that a family member had to deal with left me feeling deeply sorrowful.
I have to confess I did not come out looking good in how I handled both disappointments. I am still feeling morose and downcast. I find myself walking with the weight of gloom on my shoulders. My smiles are feeble. Joy is rare and flickering.
But thankfully, I am experiencing some clarity (and hope) through the cloud of grief that is still weighing heavily on me.
Two things are now clear to my heart. First, I am avoiding the sadness, rather than addressing it. Second, we were never designed to experience sadness.
As I think about this, I am surprised by how firm and unrelenting I am in suppressing my sadness rather than addressing and processing it.
We Tend to Avoid Sadness
First, I escaped into a numb, nothing world. I chose not to feel the sadness; not to think about it. Every time the emotion surfaced I shoved it back down with brute force.
This worked for a while. But the sorrow kept popping back up. When force failed, I tried subterfuge. I tried to distract myself with other things. I tried to dwell on other good things in my life that could cheer me up, so I could forget my disappointments. This too failed.
The constant dull ache of sorrow kept gnawing at my heart beneath all my denial and distractions. It never went away.
This is why I am so grateful for the gospel clarity that is now beginning to emerge in my heart: Why should I avoid sadness, or carry its weight alone, when I can process it with the Man of sorrows, one who is acquainted with grief (Isa 53:3)?
In the very act of writing this blog, I am entering into a sacred and intimate space with my saviour, Christ Jesus, who can indeed empathise with my sorrows.
I needed to meet with him intimately, so I could melt in the tender comfort of his love.
I also needed to meet him in a sacred space, so his truth could uphold me in strength and resilience.
As I finally dragged myself and my sadness into the intimate and sacred presence of Christ, I began to feel healing in my heart.
A passage from Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthian church ministered to me. “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5). In one moment, I was freed to embrace my insufficiency and to latch on to Christ’s all-complete sufficiency.
Oh, some sadness still lingers. But grace is making my heart feel lighter.
Maybe the fractured friendship will heal. Perhaps the circumstances will change. Maybe they will not. Either way, I know I can process it all in a sacred and intimate space with my Saviour.
We Were Never Designed to Endure Sadness
The second piece of clarity that emerged in and through my twin disappointments is that we were never created to endure sorrow.
In God’s good, perfect and beautiful original creation design, there was no room for sadness, not even a hint of it. Our creator designed us for a perfect world, not for the fall.
In glorious original creation, God himself would have been our every joy. This joy would have overflowed and multiplied into joy in our harmony with other sinless humans and with all of creation.
We were never designed to experience sadness; we were designed to experience fullness of joy, every moment, and for all of eternity.
I have just realised that I do not endure sadness too well because I was never created to live in a world with any sadness. I was not made for this broken world. We were not made for this broken world.
Hope stirs in my heart. This brokenness is not forever. It will be undone. One day, when Christ comes again, all sorrow will be forever gone in the thrilling joy of seeing him face to face.
And so, I find the strength to acknowledge and face my present sorrow, rather than deny it. I wait for this, and for every sorrow to go away. And, I wait in the comfort that the Man of sorrows, now risen from the dead, and seated with the Father is with me and for me as I wait.