Sadness guys. It is real. It is everywhere. It is in the air we breathe because this world is broken. You see it in the news. You see it in your lives. You see it in your home. But what do we do with it? What do we do with suffering? What do we do with brokenness? What do we do with sadness and how does a good God allow these hard things to happen? That's the big question.
I remember walking out of seminary, and somebody asked me, are you glad you went? It was three years of my life and a lot of work and a lot of papers and a lot of study and a lot of thought. But my answer was, yes. Now I ask better questions. I don't know that I have all the answers to these things that everybody wonders about God, but I know I ask better questions. And what I understand now that I didn't understand before is that God hates evil more than we hate evil and that God hates suffering more than we hate suffering.
The theology of God on suffering is he paid the highest price you can imagine paying to destroy it. So it will end. That's our promise. It will end. Whatever dark thing you are facing, if you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, there is a day when there will be no more suffering. I mean, praise God, but it's really hard to get our head around it when we're walking through it on a daily basis. So first I want to talk about why this matters. I mean, if heaven is coming and God is real, why not just be sad until we go and be with him?
The truth is what we believe about heaven and God should impact our joy and happiness now. What we have is a hope and a view of a very, very, very long life that we are going to go on forever. I know this is super basic, but I wonder how often do we really hear it? God's story is eternal, and the story is perspective-giving. We get to not hope in this life because we have one that goes on forever.
LEARN TO BE SAD
I know it's hard to like apply this when we are facing circumstances that are seemingly and in the moment despairing. And so what do we do? I'm actually going to give you some crazy advice.
I think we learn to be sad. I think we're afraid as Christians to be sad. But I want to start by saying it's okay. If you are sad and you are reading this because you have been struggling with depression for a very long time and you don't know why and you love God, that's possible. It's possible to believe the little sermonette I just gave about heaven and God and eternity and still feel sad. Not only is it possible, it's okay. And yes, there is a call to joy, but that joy often is birthed in sadness.
In fact, some of the people I know that are most joyful on earth have walked through the most grief. So we've got to be careful to paint this idea of Christians being happy. Christians are supposed to have perspective. It doesn't mean that we aren't sad or the Bible wouldn't say mourn with those who mourn. In fact, it says blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those that are broken hearted. Blessed are those that are suffering. There is a blessing over you if you are suffering.
MOURN WITH THOSE WHO MOURN
We're called to move into it with people that are suffering, and we can't wish it away. Now we can give perspective to it when the season and the time is right, but as Christians, we are terrible at this. I've seen it in comment sections of people announcing sickness or announcing the loss of a loved one. I mean, it's just horrible. If there's a word for someone that is suffering and what they need, it is "you mourn with those who mourn."
I did it last week. I remember I was flying to be with my friend who had just found out that morning that she was going to have to unplug her 26-day-old baby because of a fatal genetic condition. She didn't know the day before. She found out that morning, and I get on a plane, and I go to her and I'm like, "God, I'm going to walk into the darkest moment of her life. What do I do? What do I say? I've been a mentor all our life. What do I do?" And the only verse, I kept repeating my head was mourn with those who mourn. It's all you do. And I don't think I said one wise thing that day, but when she cried I cried. And when she laughed, I laughed and we were together. That is what we do for people. That is what they need. They don't need our words, they don't need our wisdom. They just need us to be with them.
BRING PEOPLE IN
And if you're reading and you're the one that is just over it-you have been sad for so long and you don't know what to do, I'm going to give you a few little things. I think one reason it says in the beatitudes that blessed are the poor in spirit, is that you do live with an unusual ache that we all should have at various times. You're in touch with your need for God. You're in touch with your need for hope, and that's a gift in a way. But I also know that some of you probably know or have heard of somebody committing suicide. It is rampant right now and I want to tell you that you cannot fight this alone. You need people. We all need people. Wherever you are on the spectrum of sadness today or in your life or in the season, we need the church. We need people around us holding us up when we can't hold ourselves up.
And so right now, today, I want you to reach out to somebody that loves you and tell them. You need to say the words out loud today because something about the darkness is paralyzing. And I will say this over and over again-the devil in the dark will tell you whatever the hell he wants. And that is not okay. It's not an okay way to live. So you bring people in and you bring light in.
DIG IT UP
So let's go back and dig it up. A lot of how you're behaving today is rooted in something that happened to you 15 to 20 years ago. This is Counseling 101. It's just the way we're built-to hang on to disappointment, to hang on to broken hearts, to hang on to trauma. And to ever get out of that trauma, we have to go back and understand it, understand where it came from, understand our reaction to it, and start to see it, unpack it, and feel it.
What happens when we really feel it, how God meant for us to feel it, is we find healing. This is why there are stages of grief that you have to go through. You can't ignore them. You can't just get on a drug and start working out when someone you love has died. That is not going to fix you. That is not going to do anything. It's going to push it under a rug. What you do is you start to experience community where you share, you tell it, you say it out loud and you feel understood and like you're not alone in it. The best community will do that. They'll bring out your darkest things, and they'll be in them with you.
LOOK TO THINGS UNSEEN
For the believer, there is hope. And no matter what hell you are facing, that hope is real. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, as we look not to things that are seen, but to things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are going away, they're transient, they're temporary. But the things that are unseen are eternal. The unseen things are the most real things. God is enough. That the story of God defines our stories. As believers, we don't have to be cynical about our lives or about suffering. We get to be hopeful because this life doesn't deliver. This short life that we have here on earth-it is promised that it will not deliver. It is going to disappoint us.
But the one that is coming will exceed every expectation we have. It will not disappoint. So as believers, we get to be grateful in the midst of it. We get to have hope and know that good is being caused through it. Let us be grateful that no matter what else goes to hell in our lives that this kingdom cannot be taken. It cannot be shaken, it cannot be taken from us, and it will deliver beyond anything we could ever imagine or hope for.
Practical thing for you this week is to let someone in. Let someone in, reach out, make a phone call today. And the best way if you are like, "I do not know one person I can let in" is you find a healthy local church, and you show up. I mean literally show up on Sunday, and they will have a time where they say, "meet the person next to you" and you look at the person and you say, "I am depressed and I need some community. I don't have any."
And it'll be the bravest thing you've ever done. But I'm not kidding you, in a healthy church, if they are not the one that can play that role, they will know who can and they will hand you off. So say it. Be desperate. Be desperate to somebody. Let somebody in. Check on somebody that you know struggles with depression. Check on somebody that you know is going through a difficult time right now. Let's be there for each other, guys.