“Look at Jesus. He was perfect, right? And yet he goes around crying all the time. He is always weeping, a man of sorrows. Do you know why? Because he is perfect. Because when you are not all absorbed in yourself, you can feel the sadness of the world. And therefore, what you actually have is that the joy of the Lord happens inside the sorrow. It doesn’t come after the sorrow. It doesn’t come after the uncontrollable weeping. The weeping drives you into the joy, it enhances the joy, and then the joy enables you to actually feel your grief without its sinking you. In other words, you are finally emotionally healthy.” (253) - Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering
I tend to think in limited terms. There is either joy or sorrow. It is sunny or it is cloudy. I am happy or I am sad. What is this way of being the Jesus points us to?
By nature I am a deep feeler. I sense the emotions of those around me and I can easily take them on. I had to stop listening to the news on my commute because I felt so weighed down with sorrow and burdened to fix the world. "How am I going to solve the problems in Syria and Iraq? How can I bring peace to Israel? What are we going to do about the thousands of children in the US foster care system? What about all of the kids aging out this year?" The thoughts spiral into doubt and fear and I am paralyzed. There is enough sorrow in my own life and small community without adding the burdens of the world on top of them. Yet, Jesus has called us to love our neighbors and care for the orphan and the widow. I can't put my head in the sand! How can I survive the sorrow and be His hands and feet in the world?
I am slowly learning that I can be a woman of sorrows without being prohibitively burdened and hopeless. Life is not sorrow or joy, it is both. It is only possible to walk this way through the power and knowledge given by the Holy Spirit. I am not depressed because I acknowledge the sorrows and darkness of this world; to the contrary, I am moving towards emotional health! There is joy to be found in the depths of the sorrow. There is beauty as we serve the widow and the poor. There is blessing as we pour out of the overflow of the love that dwells within us. As we walk with the suffering, we walk on holy ground. As I imperfectly seek to embrace the joys and the sorrows, Christ will be my guide and my strength. I cannot fix the world, but He can, and He gives me the privilege of being a part of the suffering.
Are you sticking your head in the sand? Are you weighed down and sunk by sorrows? Look to the source of all love and light. He was a man of sorrows and He offers joy from a well that will not run dry. What a beautiful mystery it is to walk in the ways of Jesus.