Sometimes I feel sad and wonder if I’m depressed. I was definitely depressed in high school, in that I often thought about running my car into a ditch because I actually didn’t want to be alive. But I’m not that kind of depressed anymore. I like being alive. I just feel like a deflated balloon. I don’t feel deflated all the time, but the times I do I can’t remember ever feeling another way.
Don’t you ever have mornings when you wake up and feel heavy? I tell myself, Savannah, you are going to choose JOY today, but then I inevitably hate every outfit in my closet and burn my hand on a curling iron or something.
Then I think about the cross, where Jesus was murdered in my place. Where Jesus demonstrated the kind of love that takes an eternity to breathe in. Where Jesus chose me. Where Jesus proved I was wanted and claimed and cared for.
I think about the cross…and nothing happens.
I understand these truths and I believe them, I really do. Even in my sadness, if someone put a gun to my head, I’d take the bullet because I know Jesus is real and loves me and died to give me life. I believe it all and I still feel sad sometimes. Then I feel angry about feeling sad because I shouldn’t feel sad for no reason. Then shame creeps in, whispering, If you really loved him above everything else you wouldn’t feel sad. And then guilt— condemning guilt that says God regrets saving me because I’m the worst person on planet earth.
Those days are heavy days.
They string along like Christmas lights on a fence, turning into weeks and maybe even months. Then, seemingly without rhyme or reason, the heaviness lifts and I catch a glimpse of him (a taste of joy, a thrill of hope). In an instant, the things of earth grow strangely dim and the joy of salvation returns. In these moments I remember that sad days are worth good days and his grace miraculously keeps my joy from draining into despair.
The truth about sadness is that it’s real, yet temporary.* Even if temporary means the next eighty years are full of melancholy battles, the string of lights will end as sadness fades away in the light of his glory and grace. When he makes everything new, there will not be heavy mornings. There will not be shame-induced-guilt-induced-sadness. His presence will so deeply consume every fiber of the universe that there will be no place for anything less. This doesn’t mean you and I won’t feel sad today, but it does mean we won’t feel sad forever. Keeping our eyes on that day, then, let us fight for joy with the bits of joy we have, knowing we do not struggle in vain. Lifting our eyes from ourselves to him, let us say, Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
*I think this is particular to a Christian’s sadness in light of the cross and consequential hope of Christ