So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company...
How can God encourage us in times of sadness?
“Christians shouldn’t be sad.”
As if we are super-human or something. I don’t know how many people I’ve come across who believe Christians should all walk and talk like Ned Flanders (a Simpsons reference...I might be aging myself here a bit).
Yet becoming a believer doesn’t automatically turn off your emotions switch.
The Bible is full of examples of Godly men and women who experienced sadness for many different reasons. Hannah was distraught that she couldn’t get pregnant. David was sad because he committed adultery and murder. Jeremiah the prophet was sad because God’s people wouldn’t return to him. Mary was sad watching her son suffer an agonizing death. Even Jesus is called a Man of Sorrows, and He wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus.
So, I think it’s safe to say that it’s OK for someone who loves Jesus to still be sad over circumstances, our sin, others' sins and watching loved ones suffer.
Even Abram (Abraham) suffered from times of sadness. Abram was a man who lived by faith (see Hebrews 11), which was no small feat considering the things God asked of him.
God chose Abram to be the father of Israel, God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. Yet, Abram’s wife was barren. And getting old. God had blessed Abram with a ton of stuff, and a nephew who was more like a son, who also had a ton of stuff . It got to the point where the land wasn’t able to support all their livestock and herdsmen. Abram’s solution was for them to separate and head different directions.
I can imagine Abram watching Lot leave, wondering how on earth God would fulfill the promise to make him a Father of many nations. In the back of his mind, he must have thought maybe Lot was the one God had planned to continue Abram’s line through. Yet here he was, moving in opposite directions.
Sadness. Confusion. Anxiety. Fear. We all know those feelings, just as Abram did. These feelings don't mean we are faithless or weak. In fact, often the opposite is true: we realize we have unwavering faith when it is being tested.
“In hope [Abraham] believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told... 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his [circumstances]... 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
Abram looks to God. He shares his burden with his loving Father. And God responds by telling him to ‘lift up his eyes’. Oh, how we have a tendency to navel gaze when we are hurting. God reminds Abram of his promise to him, how big his inheritance will be, and leads him to a new place. Abram obeys God and worships.
Proper response to sadness leads us to worship God and move in obedience. When we are reminded of God’s promises to us, we are not left in despair. All of God's promises to us are “yes” in Jesus! We serve a kind and compassionate Father who is close to the brokenhearted and restores us (Psalm 34:18).
Take some time today to share your personal sadness with God. Share your burden with him, and then lift up your eyes to the promises we have in Him. I love how the lyrics in Aaron Keyes’ song, Sovereign Over Us, moves me from sadness into a place of worship, reminding me of God’s faithfulness.