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so that was the very brilliant rem from back in the 90s those of you that are into that kind of thing it just has that feel what a great song what a great vocal and yet what I think is most poignant about it when you watch the video is this it’s the internal monologues that we get a window into those those subtitles that come up they’re not spoken words but they are the process of the people within the video and just think back some of them one of them quotes the bible the book that many of us regularly read lead me to the rock that is higher than I those that sow in tears they will reap enjoy at some point we read people talking about I just need to be seen a man who talks about 17 years that have just gone the poignant at the end like she’s gone like there is an emptiness there is so much sadness there internalized and then given to us as a monologue today in our series on emotions we get to talk about sadness and and this was not an easy one for me because by nature I don’t do sadness very well at all generally I live in this fairly upbeat place I thought should I get someone else to come and talk about sadness and and yet there’s something about having to do the work because not every single one of you finds sadness easy to process either often for me a a sermon is a little bit like a puzzle like a jigsaw uh I’ll get some pieces like lying around and occasionally I’ll move them around and eventually it feels like they’re gonna fall into place and I’m like there it is that’s the thing at one o’clock in the morning last night I had gone like full child mode on a jigsaw puzzle I was like I’m just gonna take this piece I’m gonna pound this thing in and it will fit because I say it will fit I was like it just doesn’t feel good and then I was like no I was talking about anger last week this is supposed to be about sadness this week it was just difficult though to make it make sense not every feeling is easy to process we’re in this season if you’re new to kind of a church thing in in what’s called the church calendar called lent where we begin to walk with Jesus towards death and then on to resurrection so on on april 10th we will celebrate palm sunday his entrance into jerusalem on april 17th we’ll celebrate resurrection sunday the highest and best day of a year but I have this sort of theory that you and I and as a community we get out of easter what we put into lent there is this time of processing that is important to take seriously all that Jesus is experiencing and so over the next few weeks you’ll see us dive into some of these passages that maybe we don’t go to all the time passages like the garden of gethsemane Jesus goes intentionally walks into a garden and spends time pouring out his soul asking this question if if there is a better planet it’s language that we may not be comfortable with because we say Jesus shouldn’t you know if you are who you say you are shouldn’t you know what the plan is and then here you are saying if there is another way if why if lent it seems is full of ifs and questions like why and when and how but it is this time that is important and intentional especially if you find the difficult emotions harder to process and so we have kind of like we’ve made a choice that I may be good may be bad but we’ve chosen in this season as well as doing lent to talk about this broad spectrum of painful emotions we’ve talked about anger we’ve talked about shame we will talk about fear and anxiety and why why talk about them a couple of reasons feelings emotions when we’re doing this journey of faith they bring new data that is missing when only thoughts are trusted if you like information that’s good if you like to do things that’s great but there is stuff to feel as well and what happens is as we unpack some of our feelings we start to see that maybe the surface feeling maybe that’s not the real thing last week we talked about cain and abel these two famous brothers from back in genesis and we looked at kane’s initial reaction and we say looks like anger but maybe it’s sadness maybe some of you have done that you felt something and then you’ve looked under the surface and said one of that isn’t the thing perhaps I’m fearful perhaps I’m something else but slowly it allows us to unpack and maybe understand a little bit more about us and about our journey with God as well and then there’s this from the early hebrew tradition this book genesis which simply means beginnings chapters 1 through 11 uh what you might call the earliest part of the bible history and the story of the first family adam and eve was understood as fundamentally about emotions and emotional suffering now if you’re here and you’re kind of on the edge of do I do church do I believe in a God do I believe Jesus is who he said he is that’s fine you may look at me and say I’m not sure adam and eve are real people at all and I’d say I’ll go with you on that for a second the story is a myth what does that mean we take myths to mean things that aren’t true that’s not what a myth is at all a myth is often historically true but it is always always humanly true adam and eve teach us something about who we are what system we operate in how we think things through and we get to see and unpack from them just what it is to have emotions to be given these emotions and then this fall this big event that this creation of emotional suffering so many of us experience the struggle with emotions and how we process them we were made with emotion but the fall this big event this genesis event it introduces emotional suffering and not just for us as humans it’s not just humanity affected by this according to genesis it’s not just humanity that’s affected God is affected too the first time we see grief sadness in the bible it isn’t a human being that feels it it’s God that feels it that first moment of sadness is a divine thing in genesis chapter 6 verse 5 we read the lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time the lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth and his heart was deeply troubled that deeply troubled phrase there is that expression of I’m just sorrowful there’s something wrong with this this isn’t how it’s supposed to be and this pattern runs all the way through these books in the bible like a thread maybe the most poignant being this john 11 35 Jesus wept a verse of just two words as Jesus stands in front of the grave of a friend as he watches the grief and sadness of his family as he embraces the grief and sadness of those around him it seems Jesus stands unashamedly christ weeps weeps for what reason I would suggest both Jesus emotion here and the emotion that God is represented as having back in genesis uh centered around this question how did it end up like this this isn’t how it’s supposed to be it’s a mixture a weird mixture right of sadness and anger maybe you felt it too I got breakfast uh the other day with a friend who runs a charity that does an amazing job just helping people come out of the sex trafficking in the trafficking industry and work so hard to do that and as we’re talking he’s pushing me and pushing me on how we can get involved and how we can contribute and all of those different things and there’s this one moment where I said you know you’re a little bit prickly when you talk about this and that that’s a good thing that’s what he has to do to help create that to make that happen he has to push and there has to be that sense of almost anger and sadness combined that says no together together we can make a difference here maybe you feel that right now as you look in the world around you and you see conflict all over the place maybe you look at what’s going on in the ukraine maybe you look at what’s happening in myanmar maybe you look at what’s happening in ethiopia afghanistan these numerous places where there are wars and we as a group of people I think often tend to focus on one specific one and yet these things are happening all the time around us and maybe for you there’s this sadness and outrage that that’s still our story it’s the same emotion that God has here where he says how did it end up like this the language in hebrew is this word which means to be troubled to be pain to have this uncomfortable sense that everything isn’t as it’s supposed to be now here’s the thing I I struggle processing emotions a little bit especially difficult ones as I said and I’m gonna credit this a little bit to some of my upbringing there is these things in england in britain that that you’re told from early on that just can sort of get ingrained in you so I’ve got some images to show you some of you may have seen this one keep calm and carry on it’s a famous british phrase it comes from the second world war it comes from this moment where there was this assumption that eventually looked like germany would win that this was going to happen and then some good guys came in and saved the day and everything was all right again you were the good guys just you know way to go you helped us out thank you uh but there was this idea that germany will eventually win this is this is what we need to do when not if when that happens when there are german troops on the streets keep calm and carry on don’t do anything crazy there will be something working behind the scenes there will be underground movements all of those different things that will eventually shape you just keep everything calm and carry on and this has become like a whole different bunch of memes now so you have keep calm and go to starbucks if you want bad coffee go to starbucks um take that starbucks but if you want good coffee maybe go somewhere else we have keep calm and just keep swimming it’s finding nemo and if you are drowning definitely that’s a good thing to do just keep swimming excellent advice I don’t know what this one is keep calm and mustache maybe it’s like a grow your mustache in november type thing uh just yeah confused keep calm and consolidate all your debts into one easy monthly payment in that moment where you look and there’s just money on everything just find a way to to get it sorted out and then this one keep calm and stiff upper lip stiff I believe it takes one famous britishism and then adds to it another one this idea of keeping a stiff upper lip was something that we were told was inherently british don’t show emotion and now apparently if you want to show yourself to be the true anglophile you can buy stiff upper lip balm um endorsed by winston churchill himself although he may not have had any say in the decision but it can let us go forward to soothe them to suffer and stiffer bullet bomb um so there we go just in case you were wondering this culture though is is and was real this is a picture of uh the funeral of diana princess of wales in 1997 had two sons william at 15 and harry at 12 who are told to walk behind the casket of their mother after she has passed away in front of a nation and to show minimal emotion as they do it as he unpacked this years later this is what harry said my mother had just died and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television I felt if I looked at the floor and my hair came down over my face no one could see me it’s a young man who was forced to process these deep emotions in front of the world and almost told by his culture to do it in a way that doesn’t show real emotion don’t let anybody see just how sad you are just what you are experiencing as I tried to tap into some of my own earliest memories of sadness just to prepare for this in actual fact one of the things that I connected with the most was my sadness around animals now my parents had this great philosophy around dogs if you’re looking for parental advice try this on if if this works for you then then this is fine we were not allowed dogs except on vacation they would always take us to places that had dogs at the vacation place we’d go to family members that love their dogs so what would happen is over and over again I’d get deeply emotionally connected to this animal only to be torn away from it so now having had that done to me I was like I want to do this for my kids as well I want them to experience that that trauma that’s kind of what parenting is right so we we borrowed a cat a third cat from some friends who very kindly lent us their beautiful cat and I watched as within a week this cat usurped both our other cat’s place of affection within the home they became just like passionate about this cat and then of course as I planned it was taken away from them and they got to process emotion which is good for them right I think um it worked for me so so what I was intrigued by was this this is something these are some of the things that I heard them say check this out for emotion I wish he could have stayed longer the house feels emptier he made me so happy isn’t that what we often say in sadness and grief I’m not talking now about cats I’m talking about relationships I’m talking about so many other things if only the status of only it could have stayed as it was if only we could have had this for a little bit longer if only there was a little bit more time they made me so happy it could be a relationship it could be a loss of death all of those different things but it expresses that raw emotion that maybe is at the heartbeat of what sadness is maybe some of us just simply don’t know how to express it so some of us would just say why am I so sad and then what do I do with my sadness like we asked with anger what do you do with sadness so some things about sadness sadness is complex maybe for me more complex than most of the others we gave you this emotion wheel when we started this series and it looks like the idea that there’s these core emotions in the center and then there’s all of these different things and some of you guys will say no one can feel all of those things it’s impossible and yet people do and now I’m going to zoom in for a little while on the sadness and look at this range here in different apathetic isolated abandoned empty inferior vulnerable powerless victimized ignored ashamed remorseful there are so many things going on there that we might feel around sadness and we all experience it you may say by nature I don’t do sadness and yet you may not process it well but still somewhere it is there somewhere it is within you every single one of us has this but in completely different ways so for some of us we would say primarily what I experience is situational sadness something happens and I feel sad maybe for a long time maybe for a short time but I just know just from experience that for some of you in this community you would say it is not situational sadness that is my struggle some of you would say I am dispositionally sad and so often when you operate in that space most of the time in a community especially around faith around church you can feel very isolated very rejected very unaccepted by a community that can kind of say you know what come and put a smile on your face come and pretend everything is okay because that’s what we do here maybe you’ve asked questions even about how does God see you when you constantly hold that sense of sadness when that’s a thing for you regularly how does the God who comes to bring joy in the world how does the God who says one day everything will be made right how does he feel about me when I’m so often in that place of sadness there are different ways of looking at this and some of our ability to just make everything binaries in play here I read this quote that just made me chuckle a pessimist is just a word an optimist uses to name a realist and there’s some truth to those things right we see things we see the world differently and we’re not very good at connecting with someone who does operate in a different space sadness is complex we all experience sadness though in different ways and that sadness is often internal it sits there somewhere inside it’s that monologue that we saw rem bring to life so brilliantly these are all of the things that I’m processing and potentially I have nowhere to go with them so what do we do what I love about this book the bible that we’re given is that there’s so many ways it helps us when we use it properly process emotions last week we looked at the idea that this book psalms has what are called imprecatory psalms there’s psalms where you get to come to God and you get to vent you get to explode in a safe place and say God this is all the things that I’m angry about there are also psalms of lament and this one this one psalm 88 is maybe the most I don’t want to say profound I want to say the most difficult to process so if you have a text you can turn to psalm 88 I’ll pick out some key moments on the screen later lord you are the God who saves me day and night I cry out to you may my prayer come before you turn your ear to my cry so good so far I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death I am counted among those who go down to the pit I am like one without strength I am set apart with the dead like the slain who lie in the grave whom you remember no more who are cut off from your care you have put me in the lowest pit in the darkest depths your wrath lies heavily on me you have overwhelmed me me with all your waves and maybe in your text it will say the word seller next to that which really means take a moment to think about that for just a second and I want you to remember that moment you have overwhelmed me with all your waves you have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them I am confined and cannot escape my eyes are dim with grief I call to you lord every day I spread out my hands to you do you show your wonders to the dead do the spirits rise up and praise you is your love declared in the grave your faithfulness and destruction are your wonders known in the place of the darkness or are your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion but I cried to you for help lord in the morning my prayer comes before you why lord do you reject me and hide your face from me remember that word why from my youth I have suffered and been close to death I have borne your terrors and am in despair your wrath has swept over me your terrors have destroyed me all day long they surround me like a flood they have completely engulfed me you have taken from me friend and neighbor darkness is my closest friend darkness is my closest friend this psalm is almost unique in that it ends in this very negative place the only phrase that we might pull out and say that’s kind of upbeat is lord you are the God who saves me and then this psalmist this writer goes and questions it for about 14 or 15 verses you are the God who saves me but do you do I just have to sit here and then this end like darkness is my closest friend there are these complaints these words that might come up these thoughts this one here may my prayer come before you turn your ear to my cry it’s the cry of when when will you do something about this when will you do something about war when will you do something about suffering when will you do something about my suffering will you save at some point when will those things happen and then as we move on verse 10 and 11 do you show your wonders to the dead do their spirits rise up and praise you is your love declared in the grave your faithfulness and destruction are your wonders known in the place of darkness or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion they’re all questions to which the answer is no and you might say within this text is this idea of like it’s a proclamation of no this shouldn’t be this way it’s when and it’s no and then it’s why but I cry to you for help lord in the morning my prayer comes before you why lord do you reject me and hide your face from me inherent to this text to this kind of prayer are these words that come up when you are in the midst of sadness in the midst of a struggle in the midst of that place where it feels like all around you is darkness there is this cry of when and know and why our sadness longs for answers it longs for answers now this is a good place I think to be in I think by nature many of us trying to avoid this kind of place and yet when we are experiencing sadness when we are experiencing grief this is perhaps exactly where we need to be the writer pete zazara says this running away from our sorrows and pain does not heal our pain it only makes the pain worse we must walk through the valley of the shadow I by nature avoid this place and yet there’s something that says no you need to go to this place you need to go to this place because this writer went to this place I would suggest you need to go to this place because Jesus went to this place he sat in the space of sorrow and pain and experienced it but I wonder whether some of the questions we ask at this time I wonder if they’re helpful I wonder if we ask them in the right way and I’m specifically thinking about that question why what do we mean when we say why a bunch of years ago a frenchman called philippe petit did this thing where he put a wire in between the twin towers in new york and he walked across it back and forth for an hour there is a movie about it if you uh one who struggles with that kind of tension don’t watch this movie it’s not a good choice for you but as he walks back and forth he does all of these different things and then when he comes down a bunch of reporters gather around him and they’re like philippe why why why why did you do this and he looks at them with this confused expression on his face and he says why only an american would ask why there is no why there is only because now I wonder whether he tapped into something about our psyche that when we ask the question why we want some kind of big reason behind it we want to see cause and effect when we are in sadness when we say why we want to ask questions like what did I do to get here what was the reason for it have I done something has somebody else done something how can I give it an explanation that makes sense I think we want this for ourselves and I think we want it for the other people that we experience in sadness I think we want to give people answers when we experience a human being a fellow human being in sadness and suffering we want to move them on their journey as quickly as possible to tell them everything is going to be okay I think when we sit with those in sadness we long to have answers and I don’t think we always need them there was a brilliant little video put together some years ago I didn’t have time to show it but in the video the the lady in the conversation has a nail stuck in her forehead and you can only see it from one perspective and as she’s trying to explain everything she’s feeling she’s talking about how there’s this pressure that sits right here and the guy in the conversation is like yeah there’s a nail let me take that out and she’s like no it’s not the nail it’s like this thing this sharp stabbing pain is like yeah the nail let me take the nail out we very quickly believe we perceive the struggling others and we very quickly think we can bring an answer and I’m not sure that’s what we’re called to do as challenging as is maybe our call is to recognize that in that moment that person who’s experiencing that sense of I sit in the darkness my closest friend is the darkness maybe what they need most is for you to sit with them in that space by nature what I do is this metaphorically for that person I like to come in and switch on all the lights so that it’s bright so that they know everything is okay I do this in real life as well every morning I wake up and I turn every light I can possibly find and in the house and my oldest child is very much like me so we would do that together as she was waking up we would go and we would turn all the lights on and everything was fine until gigi came along and gigi is just wired differently she’s just she’s she’s gigi and so she in this moment would come down into the light of everything and she would have this grumpy look on her face and her eyes were still half closed and she would look at me and she would say this daddy it’s too bright in here turn down the lights it was her own way of operating in the world and yet isn’t that true like there is this sense we we see people in sorrow and we just think the answer is we’re going to turn on every single light and when you sit in this place of darkness in this sorrow is that what’s needed sometimes space is needed just to sit and be there it’s too bright in this house we want answers for those that we see in sadness and maybe when we sit there eventually we want answers for ourselves as we sit in a place where we would say darkness is my closest friend we long to hear answers and don’t always get them the famous character job in the bible and his moment of sadness says if only I knew where I could find God I would ask him questions and he would answer me and then he does find God and he does ask him questions and God doesn’t answer him doesn’t give him the explanation we ask why because we want an explanation for why we sit where we are and we don’t always get it I wonder if our challenge is this and I think we’ll see this in a minute in Jesus life maybe a good challenge for us as people is this for those of us in sadness we are invited to join in gladness for those in gladness we are invited to sit in sadness it takes courage to believe you can hold those two things together that you can hold gladness and sadness at the same time we want to make everything binary it’s opposites and yet I wonder if that’s true at all the question in the movie perks of a warfare is this I’m both happy and sad at the same time and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be and yet constantly in the new testament writings especially is this message even to people are in the midst of trauma struggle trial to choose joy or rejoicing paul writes to this church in a town called phillip a church that’s experiencing political upheaval is experiencing conflict is experiencing poverty does that sound familiar to anyone at the moment all of the things that we might be experiencing all of these existential tensions and he says to them three times in the space of a couple of chapters rejoice choose to practice joy because even in your sadness it is good for you I learned this from my friends in haiti I used to go visit regularly uh a church in haiti and and I watched as as they experienced just this incredibly intense trauma in 2010 this earthquake came through and pastor timothy the pastor of this church came to the church building the next morning and found 15 kids sat on the doorstep all of whose parents had died that night in the earthquake so he instantly had what he would call an orphanage but really trying to provide a home and I would watch as these people who did experience this intense sorrow gathered together and dressed better than any of us for sunday morning and then sang for 20 minutes one song over and over again with two words messi jizu thank you Jesus thank you Jesus thank you over and over again these people in this deep sadness know what it is to carry joy and to carry sadness at the same time they have the courage to do that
maybe as we process sadness one of the questions that comes to mind is what does Jesus do with our sadness is there ever register a remedy is there ever a next thing and I’m intrigued by Jesus journey in to sadness in hebrews chapter 12 verse 2 we’re told this we fix our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith the one who did faith well for the joy set before him he endured the cross for the joy set before him he endured the cross for the joy those two things don’t seem like they belong together and yet it seems like for Jesus they did exist together as he’s crucified he prays this prayer which again is just intriguing in the questions that it answers or asks matthew 27 verse 46 about three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice which means my God my God why have you forsaken me Jesus takes the my of ownership isn’t there some sense of ownership still in the word my this is my God and the why of abandonment and he holds them together in the place of death and crucifixion both of those things are in play there is my there is still this connection to the God of the story and there is why there is abandonment and I don’t like him asking that question because I want to know Jesus what do you mean by why don’t you know the reason it seems in this moment Jesus embraces the fullness of what it is to be human to have that sense of God where are you in the darkness when will you act and I don’t want to be here and why is this even happening he enters into our experience our experience of the waves covering me I don’t know when there’s going to be a break this one time when I was surfing I got caught in a wave cycle I was down for one wave and just as I got back to the surface the next wave came across and pulled me back under and you can get into this cycle for maybe seven waves and each time you’re just gasping for a breath and then just trying to just survive and that’s the picture image that we get of why the psalmist talks about the waves have crushed me and Jesus in this moment feels like that’s where he is and yet still he holds this my of ownership he’s able to hold the joy of relationship with God even in the midst of feeling abandoned and then where does his story go incredibly in the end of the psalm Jesus quotes it ends far more positively than psalm 88 it says this they will proclaim his righteousness declaring to a people yet unborn he has done it he has done it that’s what we’re told at resurrection Jesus has done this he has redeemed he has made a way where there was no way he has changed the world as we get to experience and yet he does it by experiencing the same kind of suffering that you and I will experience the same kind of sadness and asking some of the same questions that we will ask Jesus experiences joy and agony and suffering and shame all at the same time all of those different things Jesus is able to bring us to a point where we don’t necessarily get an answer to our question why at least in terms of an explanation we may not get a reason why we are where we are but we may get an answer to the question why in terms of purpose and what it might do in the future the number of times I’ve been in relationships with people as a pastor in a church community and I’ve seen someone go through a journey and there have been so many wise and yet the journey has come to some sense of feeling like it’s it’s been redeemed and then the joy for me as I take that person and place them alongside another person not just to turn on lights not just to say we’re going to make this as bright as possible but to sit with them in the darkness and say there is a possibility that this will lead to a place of purpose one day do you need to believe that now does it need to feel like everything is okay now no it doesn’t but there is a possibility that this God who excels in creating new stories might create a new story for you at his lowest point in Jesus midst of his question why there is this future promise of purpose he has done it that is the message that these new testament writers long to bring us I’m going to invite aaron to come and lead us in a song and we’re going to read one quote that I think will just wrap this up this is ruth haley barton experiencing struggle experiencing sadness the trauma that we’ve talked about and the waves of pain did wash over me with rhythmic quality ebbing and flowing I felt like I needed to lie completely still so as not to be swept away it is hard to describe what happened after that I felt empty and spent but comforted by God’s loving presence I had not been swept away you have put me in the lowest pit in the darkest depths your wrath lies heavily on me you have overwhelmed me with all your waves that’s the message of psalm 88 it seems like in Jesus care for us what is possible that we might end up saying is this I have not been swept away I am still here comforted by God’s loving presence with the possibility of new stories ahead aaron’s going to lead us in a song which shapes the possibility that for you if you find yourself sitting in a place of darkness we don’t want to just say we’re going to turn on all the lights and that will make everything all right but we do want to capture and create the possibility that there may be a new story ready to emerge and that when you are ready to step towards it the God of the universe is ready to take you exactly as you are with all of the rawness of your emotions he’s ready to lead you into new things God wherever we find ourselves however sadness finds us where the sadness feels like it covers most of our story our disposition sadness is hard to process
with whatever emotion we’re struggling with this week
thank you that you meet us exactly as we are you tell us it’s okay to be us that we are loved cherished
would you speak to our hearts through the sun amen