A number of years ago Hannah and I lost a cousin to a brain tumor. She was only a young child, and the entire family was crushed. Hannah and I went to church that morning so broken, hurting so much. Our church at the time was like most churches – happy songs, happy faces, lots of smiles. That was not what we were feeling, and we intentionally didn’t try to hide our pain. Our pastor at the time asked us before the service started how we were. We were honest, and he was moved. Then, in the middle of the service a few minutes later, something unexpected happened.
The happy songs stopped, the pastor took the stage, and shared what we had just told him. Our church family surrounded us, prayed for us, and we took a minute to weep together. The songs continued after that moment, but now the joyful songs were a little deeper after the honest tears.
The Psalms are constantly crying out to God – even at times angry with God or accusing God. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? How would those words of David and Jesus be heard in our church today? Is there a time for sorrow?
We can be honest with God; we can be honest with our church families. We can bring our sorrows and know there is a time for sorrow. We can come to the Man of Sorrows who bears our pain – and find healing. We don’t have to put on the mask and always pretend to be happy. We can be authentic and find a real hope in Him. We can sing songs of joy with hearts that are in the midst of pain. We can also sing songs of sorrow.
We need times of sorrow, times of repentance, times of acknowledging the pain of life. This is a big reason why our church celebrates Ash Wednesday, even though we are not a liturgical church. This is a great tradition, starting a great season in the Church year, called Lent. Lent is a time to remember the sorrows and sufferings of Jesus, and be willing to walk with Him through the sufferings of life.
Ash Wednesday this year is March 5, and I hope you will join us for our service, and participate in Lent. This is not just a Roman Catholic thing, this is a following Jesus thing. “Blessed are those who weep.” These are the things that help us be more honest about how life truly is, and to find the joy in the midst of real pain, to know that God is still with us, even in our darkest moments.