Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Joy" to the World


I’m depressed.  Although I set myself up to do everything “right” this holiday season, going to the gym 3 days a week, taking an anti-depressant, and seeing a grief counselor, I am still depressed.  And that is okay.

My husband died on Christmas Eve, 2013.  Just 2 years ago. And I am grieving.  The songs and the decorations draw me back to the place of watching my husband die from cancer. 

I do not want to allow Satan to steal my joy. I am fighting tooth and nail, but losing the battle against grief. Perhaps you too are feeling sadness, depression, or grief this holiday season.  I want to let you know it is okay.

When Jesus came to Lazarus’ tomb, the Bible tells us in John 11:33,  “When Jesus saw her (Lazarus’ sister, Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” 

The Bible doesn’t then tell us, Jesus said, “Don’t cry, I’m going to raise him from the dead.” He doesn’t say, “Don’t be sad, I’m going to fix this!” 

No, in a short but profound verse, John 11:35 simply says, “Jesus wept.” He wept. Knowing the Lazarus would be standing with them, alive, in an instant, Jesus still wept.  Because he felt the sadness of those with him.  And it was okay.

When well meaning Christians tell hurting Christians that we should have joy, the hurting now feel like bad Christians as well.  Jesus first empathized with the grieving, and shared their pain. He did not chastise them for failing to have joy.

Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  It does not say, “Do not weep.” It does not say, “Why are you sad? You should feel joyful.” It acknowledges the fact, that while we may have a season of sadness, we can have the hope of knowing joy is coming.

This is echoed in Ecclesiastes, that there is a season for everything; “There is a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” For me, December is my time to mourn.

But in my mourning, my suffering, I can know what Paul says in Romans 3, that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

If you are battling grief or depression this holiday season, I urge you to share your concerns with a trusted friend, pastor or counselor. But know that it is okay to be sad.  We may not have “joy.” But what we can have is hope.  We do grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (1Thes 4:13)

That hope is in Jesus. The hope of knowing that joy is coming. The hope of knowing He will intercede for us. The hope of knowing this is a season, and that we will dance again. It is okay to not feel joyous in this moment. But hold firmly to hope. Joy comes in the morning.

Kelly Combs is a Christian mom, writer and speaker. You can learn about Kelly by visiting her website at www.kellycombs.com

Chatty Kelly