The Cure for Sadness?

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My family’s move to the Northwest has been an incredible experience.  I’ve been encouraged by a few coaches to pay close attention to my emotions through this period - something I haven’t spent a lot of time doing.  I would rather be busy doing lots of things for God.  As I’ve grown in faith, I’ve learned that what you do flows out of who you are.  To live whole and effective lives, an important question for us all to ask on a regular basis is, “who am I?”

So… who/how am I?  Pretty good.  And a little sad.  A few years ago, I equated things like fear and sadness with failure.  This idea is false.  Sadness and fear in moderation are a healthy part of the fabric of our humanity.  Without the things that scare us, we wouldn’t have much to conquer.  Without sadness, we’d never know how sweet it is to be comforted.  Sadness is a deep emotion.  It opens parts of ourselves that we never realized we had.  Sadness, when expressed in the arts, can lead to the creation of rich works of beauty, resonant movies, and moving stories.  Disney’s Inside Out reminds of as much.  ;)

I really have loved our move, but I’ve felt sad on several occasions.  It sneaks up on me, and it always relates to family and friends.  A few weeks ago, I took Valentine to a park.  She started chasing a big crowd of geese that began running from her.  She was laughing, but determined.  A headstrong toddler, Valentine wasn’t content just chasing - she was in it for the catching.  This proved elusive.  There were two other kids that were leaving the field as we played.  Valentine paused to wave at them.  She kept waving and waving, but the kids didn’t wave back.  The kids probably didn’t see her - they certainly weren’t being rude.  However, I was struck in that moment with how far away we were from people who knew us - from people who went out of their way to wave back.

Normal, everyday sadness in moderation is a good thing.  When sadness goes unmanaged, as it does for an alarming amount of people, there is a problem.  We need a cure for sadness.  In our non-efficient way, many of us struggle to treat our blues.  We self-medicate with…

  • Busyness (don’t let it catch you)
  • Distraction (Netflix binges, social media)
  • Anger (sadness feels passive - anger gives the illusion of control)
  • Over-consumption (alcohol, drugs, intimacy)

I read an article today that highlights these issues.  Esquire magazine reports that there has been a huge spike in the death rate of middle-aged Caucasians.  This is extraordinarily unlikely for a developed nation.  The killer:  sadness, and its link to drug use and suicide.  How do we get a handle on sadness.  How do We experience life’s everyday peaks and valleys without sliding down the slippery slope of gloom.

The answer…. HOPE.

Hope is the darkness-cutting promise that better days are ahead.  It shines a light that pierces the most ominious clouds.  Hope begins as a decision to believe, but it only works if the foundation is true.

Here is the truest hope:  Jesus is alive and He is here.

I can face anything in life when I remember this.  I can miss my family and be ok because Jesus is alive, and He is here.  I can pause in moments of loneliness because Jesus’ presence is real and satisfying.  I can deal with horrible news because with the resurrection of Jesus, evil will never have the final say.

Even this resolve will be tested.  Keeping in touch with friends online, I’ve been devastated by two pieces of news.  A friend’s sister was truck by a car and killed.  I can’t imagine that sorrow.  Another friend received a serious cancer diagnosis.  He has a beautiful young daughter.

Here is the thing with hope.  It doesn’t always fix things.   It holds us and points us toward a time and place when everything will be made new.

Hope helps my faith become real.  Jesus begins to jump off of the page as I reach for His promise.  The victory of Jesus becomes deeply felt.

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:26‬ ‭

Death could not defeat Jesus.  It will never define those who belong to him.  It’s ok to be sad once and a while.  Ours is a life of victory, promise, and joy.  We shouldn’t be afraid of the moments when Hope is all we have.  When our hope is in Jesus, we will always find that He is enough.

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learn more about our church planting vision at pastoraaronbennett.com

Aaron is the pastor of Spring of Life, a new church in Portland, Oregon. He's the owner of Amplify Creative.