Thoughts on Hope and Sadness

“I sometimes wonder why others don’t see it or feel it. Life is sad. People are hurting. Why aren’t more people sad? But sadness doesn’t sell well, and it doesn’t seem to preach well either. But it’s there. It’s there in our families and ministries. It’s there in our churches and friendships.” ~ Jonathan Trotter

I stared at the screen, smarting at the editorial suggestion: “I am not sure about these details. People who don’t know the whole story may wonder what you did wrong to experience these things.”

To tell the truth means to tell it naked, the story unprotected by modesty’s embellishments. I had described uncomfortable truths about the Christian dating scene, and my editor sent reality back. It wouldn’t sell. It may not even be believed.

The preferred narrative is positive. God doesn’t lead people into pain.

So I took out lines to blur the story, allowing the imagination to smudge hard facts. Things may be bad, but we don’t have to know they are that bad.

Isn’t this how we live — dressing up our realities and not naming the evil we co-exist with every day?

We face the fall daily: at home, at work, at church, on local and global levels, and in our closest relationships. Cause for sorrow is everywhere. And yet, we hide our sadness or apologize for it as a phase, a hormonal imbalance, or sin. And maybe it is — sometimes. But the way to hope isn’t positive thinking and white lies. The way to hope is through lament. Referencing C.S. Lewis in his recent RELEVANT piece, Jonathan Trotter writes, “But the deeper magic must be got at, not through escaping sadness or loss, but through fully embracing it. Through laying down. I don’t think we need less lament, I think we need more lament, more tears.”

In fully embracing the brokenness and sorrow of life, we can come most authentically to the feet of Christ. This is why he came. This is why we need him today and always. Because — we can’t fix this. We can only grieve and wait. Trotter suggests, “When we’re unwilling to hold space for sadness, when we can’t handle the unwieldy truths of mystery and paradox, we block the very pathway that leads to hope.”

And it is there — in the powerless waiting, in lament and tears, hope in the promises of a new heaven and earth begins to emerge.

While God can and does bring healing in this life, we may never see resolutions to some things that make us sad. Even so, hope exists for a sunny day. As Lewis described it, there is a deeper magic at work, whispering its presence in pink and gold mornings, in the first frost lining the world with glitter, in the stars that shine even above the darkest nights.

Weep, then, looking ahead to when there will be no more tears.

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