There seems to be this…I don’t know…unwritten rule in the Church that any sign of unhappiness suddenly means that you either lack faith or even trust in God, OR you are somehow ungrateful for the lot God has given you at the moment. And many times, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, though, often times the people who are suffering are unable to get so much as an explanation out for why they are hurting so bad at the moment before they are either quickly (and from a good heart and spirit from most) cut off with what I have dubbed as (and I mean this in the most kind way as possible) Christianeze comfort statements, or they get accused of the things I listed above.
And, I’ll be honest, this causes many a person to become shut off and perhaps even feeling like they are closed off from the church body when they feel like they can’t be honest with their feelings and emotions in a place that should be one of the safest places in the world. And…frankly…it causes them to want to avoid church because suddenly you dread hearing those words again.
On top of that, these Christianeze comfort statements of “God will get you through” or “Don’t let the enemy steal your joy”, while not at all untrue statements, are not all that helpful to those who are right smack dab in the middle of a moment of crisis.
I hope that doesn’t sound too unchristian of me to say, but I’m just being honest for a moment, and trying to speak from the perspective of someone who recently worked through his own crisis in life and had to hear these statements on almost a daily basis from very kind, loving, and well-meaning people that I care deeply about and appreciate beyond words.
Again, it isn’t that these statements are untrue. In fact, I firmly believe these things and trust God will get me through. I can firmly attest that He has already gotten me through quite a bit. To be exact, He recently got me through four 9 months of unemployment with mounds of debt, a house payment, and 6 mouths to feed…and not a month went by that we were not been able to pay a bill or feed our family. And God used generous and kind and loving people in my church and circle of friends and family to accomplish this.
And for that I am DEEPLY grateful.
And I know the enemy wants to steal my joy. He wants to attack me on every front possible to try and discourage, destroy, and even kill me. I know the scriptures. I believe them to be true. I’ve seen it in action first hand. It’s going on right now.
Trust me…I can see it.
But knowing these things, and being reminded of these things, doesn’t negate the feelings I was experiencing. It didn’t change my situation. It didn’t make the hurt, the pain, or the frustration any less real.
I want to propose something…something that ALL of us believers need to consider and be reminded of (because the Lord knows that I have been guilty of saying the same things…perhaps even callously…to friends and family in their season of pain)…and that is this…there is a season for EVERYTHING. In fact, there is an entire chapter of the Bible dedicated to giving us a pretty lengthy list of many of those things. Here’s that beautiful list…found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
- A time to be born
- And a time to die
- A time to plant
- And a time to pluck what is planted
- A time to kill
- And a time to heal
- A time to break down
- And a time to build up
- A time to weep
- And a time to laugh
- A time to mourn
- And a time to dance
- A time to cast away stones
- And a time to gather stones
- A time to embrace
- And a time to refrain from embracing
- A time to gain
- And a time to lose
- A time to keep
- And a time to throw away
- A time to tear
- And a time to sew
- A time to keep silence
- And a time to speak
- A time to love
- And a time to hate
- A time of war
- And a time of peace
Yes Church, there it is…in black and white…yes….there is a time to laugh (and I, like most, really enjoy a good laugh)…but there is also a time to weep. And you better believe there is a time to rejoice and celebrate and dance….but there is also a time to mourn.
Perhaps, just maybe, before we (with good intention, and kindness of heart) launch into our Christianeze comfort statements, we pause for a moment and consider that perhaps our brother or our sister is really needing a time to weep and/or a time to mourn. Perhaps that time is longer than YOU think is necessary.
But guess what?
It’s not your pain that you are having to endure. It’s theirs. And it is going to be different for them than it will be for you.
Perhaps, again, just maybe…we should consider the following verse as well:
Romans 12:15-16, Rejoice with those who rejoice, and WEEP with those who WEEP. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own OPINION.
And let me just say, from recent experience, that we really REALLY appreciate everyone who tried to comfort us. It meant a lot. Really, it did. We know you care. We know you meant well.
But, if we’re honest, what we really needed back then was someone to cry with us.
Someone to mourn with us.
Someone who could say they understood our pain, and that we (like some) haven’t lost our way, and we haven’t lost our faith or joy (NOTE: joy and happiness are not one and the same, but we’ll save that for another time)…we were just having a rough time, and we really needed your grace and understanding in that moment.
We are going to be OK.
And we are much better now than we were then.
And though things are slowly getting better, please know that this is from our heart to yours…
P.S. To anyone that I have personally deal callously with in your time of pain, I’m really sorry. I have now stood in your shoes and it wasn’t pleasant. I could’ve done better, but I didn’t. But I can do better going forward. You can write a check and cash that!