I am sad that so many people are catching this virus and succumbing to it.
Whenever I go out now, I am beginning to see those around me as a threat and that grieves me.
I hurt for the many who have lost jobs or income or savings.
I’m dejected that children and teachers are missing out on interaction and learning in school.
I mourn that politicians on both sides of the aisle would take a tragic situation and exploit it for personal gain.
When I hear of people fighting over toilet paper and hoarding produce that will just waste—especially while many go hungry—it brings sadness.
I mourn that fear drives decisions and attitudes toward others.
I haven’t been able to spend time with my brother and sister-in-law who are home from the mission field—sigh!
Someone I love dearly took their own life. I am heartbroken.
My friend’s daughter had to postpone her wedding and forfeit the gathering of dear friends and I hurt for them.
I’m sad for those who haven’t been able to attend the funeral of loved ones.
I cry with those who haven’t yet held new grand-babies. They feel like they have no rights.
I lament that women continue to be sexualized in our modern society and sold as slaves in all corners of the globe.
I’m grieved that African Americans are still seen as a threat and their lives cruelly snuffed out.
The reality that the sins of godless and foolish people are broadcasted for the sake of entertainment depresses me.
These feelings, thoughts and emotions have flooded my soul as well as the social media of my friends and family. We are sad, both individually and collectively. And we have every right to be.
I find the same sense of sadness in two of Jesus’s disciples*. After his tragic death on the cross and all hopes of a new earthly kingdom dashed, they took a walk together.
That very day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about all the things that had happened.Luke 24:13–14 NET
I can imagine their conversation was much like mine these days—full of sadness, grief, anxiety, confusion, and all they were missing.
While they were talking and debating these things, Jesus himself approached and began to accompany them, (but their eyes were kept from recognizing him). Then he said to them, “What are these matters you are discussing so intently as you walk along?” And they stood still, looking sad.Luke 24:15–17 NET emphasis mine
These disciples got it! Sometimes, we just have to stand still, looking sad. The Bible calls this mourning and many passages speak of lament.
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?Psalm 77:1–9 NIV
Let’s stand still and be sad. We won’t stay here. But we need to remain here for awhile because it is both okay and necessary to be sad in order to grieve well.
Therapists tell us what we need during this stage is comfort. And many people experience lack of it in their grieving process. Comfort is “being there with understanding and love, not trying to change or fix things. Comfort doesn’t change the situation itself, nor can it take away the pain, but it relays the message that someone cares and understands. Comfort validates grief and gives permission for the grieving process, or mourning to take place.” (Third Culture Kids 3rd Edition: Growing up Among Worlds, Pollock, van Renken & Pollock, 2017, p 314, 94.)
We erroneously think that comforting means reminding others of the things they need to be grateful for in an attempt to change their perspective. That is actually encouragement and it fails to bring comfort. Standing still together does. It’s okay. That’s horrible. That sucks. I’m so sorry. I am sad with you. That sounds really hard. There is a place for encouragement (and we’ll get to that in future posts) but first we need comfort.
The Psalmist knew that. And so did Jesus as he stood with the two on the road to Emmaus. Don’t fail to recognize who is standing with us in our grief—Jesus himself! He knows our sorrow and comforts with his presence.
What is making you sad today?
How can you comfort others with your presence? Even virtually?
Please record your answers in the comments below and I will stand in sadness with you.
Jesus, our Savior, we are sad. Our world is sick and hurting. Your creation groans. We have severe needs. Teach us to exercise the gift of lament that you have given as a way to process and release our sadness. Hear our cries and bring comfort with your presence. We stand still together with you.
Stay tuned for encouragement as I look back to the past to remember God’s good works.
*Since no name is given for the second disciple and because the pronoun used can refer to both male and female, there is some thought that Cleopas was walking with his wife.