Have you seen the 2015 computer-animated children’s movie, Inside Out?
After her dad takes a new job, young Riley’s family relocates from their Midwest home to San Francisco. Her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate her new circumstances.
Initially, Joy takes center stage and attempts to push Sadness to the side. However, by the end of the movie, it is Sadness, in fact, that helps Riley, after she runs away, sort things out and find her way back home. She then feels true joy again!
It’s easy to overlook the positive contributions of sadness in our lives.
We humans, created in the image of our God who Himself displays strong emotions of grief and sadness, experience the God-given emotion of sadness whenever something we deem valuable is lost or changed.
God in his infinite wisdom has provided the gift of tears as an expression and release for our sadness.
Jesus experienced the human condition. He knew grief. Jesus wept.
In this life, we also will weep.
Unfortunately, we sometimes find ourselves stuck in sadness. I see people in my counseling office who channel their sadness into:
- resentment about the unfairness of life
- toxic levels of regret
- unforgiveness of self or others
- questioning God in non-constructive ways
In such cases, sadness or mourning turns into despair and depression. (By the way, I am not suggesting that all depression has the root causes listed above.)
However, sadness can be managed in a healthy and even transformative way. We need to mourn our losses in life. In fact, we need to grieve over our own sins! Blessed are those who mourn. Joy comes in the morning.
Weeping lasts only for a while, especially when we embrace our Savior who rescues us from all affliction and heaviness.
So let us not refuse to accept our losses, engage in bargaining, or endlessly ponder the “what ifs”.
In the final analysis, sadness allows us to grow in our trust of God. We can both to suffer and yet find peace and joy in the midst of that suffering.
So, my prayer is, “God, help our minds rejoice in your goodness. Help us trust that you have our best interests at heart even when we don’t understand. Help us to draw closer to you when we are sad. Help us embrace the fellowship of your sufferings so that we may also know the power of your resurrection and the joy of your presence.”