Finding Value In Sadness
The feeling of sadness is a feeling which most of us feel we could do without, but of course, sadness will always be a part of life. Joy and sorrow are together mixed to make up the substance of our lives. The poet Ovid observed that, “no pleasure is unalloyed; some trouble ever intrudes on our happiness”.
“Happiness” is hailed by almost everyone as the desired state in life. What then is the purpose of sadness? The grim writer of the book of Ecclesiastes thought very highly of sorrow and he wrote, “sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better (Eccl 7:3) it certainly can be debated as to whether sorrow is better than laughter, but it must be admitted that sorrow might be often unappreciated in our lives. We can learn lessons in our moments of melancholy that would escape us if all our days were filled with sun and smiles. Those lessons are patience, long-suffering and courage in the face of adversity. These lessons, we might well ponder in our pleasure seeking world.
Top psychologists and many popular clergy try to suggest to us that sadness is unnatural and that life should be a steady stream of joy and laughter. They suggest that if we are not happy there must be something wrong with us. This shallow view of life can have some real unfortunate conclusions. Young couples may seek divorce at the first sign of difficulty, not knowing that every marriage has problems. Some people go deeply into debt to buy their way out of unhappiness.
In modern times we are so intent to live free from all sorrow that we seek stimulants, tranquilizers, and drugs at the slightest sign of depression. While it might be necessary to use medication to get us through a crises at times, we should not let it rob us of the healing and strength which we can gain in facing our afflictions and working out our problems. Some melancholy meditation can be for the injured heart and mind what rest and recuperation are to the body. And that is letting life’s inner powers work, mend and heal the injury, the trauma to the soul brought about by sorrow.
Sadness is a part of life, and while we do not seek for sorrow in our lives, neither should we fearfully flee from it. Sometimes the shadows gathering about us allow us to more clearly discern the light of the Lords’ Spirit as He sends it forth to lift us and guide us on our way.
Pastor Hans Lillejord