The Nature of Sadness

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Human nature—many have studied the depths of the human condition only to subject themselves to the innate responses of their own circumstances.

I work in the Cardiac Cath lab, a while back we had a patient who was a psychologist who had been a popular speaker and had published a few books. He let me know that because of his expertise he learned to control his emotions so that the circumstances didn’t overwhelm him. Most people have a moderate to high amount of anxiety before their cath procedures, the uncertainty of the findings coupled with the idea that we were going to run a catheter into their heart causes many to have fear.

I consider myself a psychological hobbyist. I like to watch how people respond given their circumstances and at times provide just enough interjection to test those responses. The observations I see in people help me understand them on a deeper level, the more I understand, the more I get to know them. If I can address them with the gospel at the point of their need, sometimes the vulnerabilities can be aligned more effectively with the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

My psychologist patient may have outwardly disguised his anxiety, but the more he talked, the more he gave his position away. He kept freely offering up information regarding all of his accolades, this type of behavior is often a way for people to make those around them understand their level of importance with a hope that they will be treated with more care. Incessant talking is also a way for people to take their minds off the situation and direct it elsewhere, this keeps them from dwelling too much on the perceived danger at hand.

The Brokenhearted

People experience every form of emotion, some disguise it to protect themselves while others wear it on their sleeve for all to see.

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

There are so many people experiencing some form of sadness, every day. From losing loved ones to the pandemic, losing jobs, losing a beloved pet, or experiencing fractured marriages and relationships–the possibilities for sadness seem endless.

Our pastor has been emphasizing the importance of rightly dividing the Word of Truth. One aspect of good Bible study is to look for patterns within the scripture, which often times is meant to emphasize a particular theme.

Did you notice any patterns in sadness?—loss.

Losing something or someone who is very close can feel like losing a limb, at least that’s what I heard a man say who lost a wife after 60 years of marriage. I’ve been married for 33 years, just over half the time of my friend and yet I still can’t imagine how difficult it would be for me. My wife and I met in high school and have essentially grown up together, our lives became entwined in every aspect of life. My wife knows what I’m going through with just the slightest mannerism.

For the Spirit filled believer, we have an advocate who knows everything about us and yet still chooses to love us. We have God’s nature within us by which we are inseparably linked and He reveals His emotions to us.

Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”

GOD’S Heart

God has emotions.

When we consider human emotions, we see the image of God in us.

Carroll Izard at the University of Delaware factor analytically delineated 12 discrete human emotions labeled: Interest, Joy, Surprise, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Contempt, Self-Hostility, Fear, Shame, Shyness, and Guilt. If we were to examine these emotions from a spiritually discerned perspective we would see both our nature of sin and the nature of God manifest in people.

Godly emotions:

  1. Interest–God takes interest in people. Isaiah 66:2 “Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” It’s not that He is unaware of anyone, but there are those who stand out in this world—the humble and contrite of spirit.
  2. Joy— Joy comes from the Lord. Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” The emotions of God are not like people experience them, based off what I see in scripture, God experiences them continuously, all the time. He experiences the profound joy He shares with us, and the sadness of those who have rejected His call.
  3. Sadness–God’s love is an expression of His nature. It would be impossible to love someone and not be sad for their destruction. Isaiah 53:3-4 “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”
  4. Anger–I pity the one who has aroused God’s anger. I am thankful that Jesus bore my sin otherwise I would fall into the camp of those who are living opposed to God’s will, who have incurred God’s wrath. Psalm 103:8 “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
  5. Disgust–a feeling of revulsion or strong disapproval aroused by something unpleasant or offensive. Sin is a revulsion to God. Satan helps lead people into sin, people’s sinful natures tend to follow. An abomination is the biblical equivalent to disgust. Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” There are many acts that God is disgusted by, they are all found in sin.
  6. Contempt–Those who are contemptuous are those who deserve scorn. Like showing contempt in a court of law, people show contempt for God’s position as Judge over all mankind. If it is the humble that God exalts, it is those who have exalted themselves He brings low. Psalm 107:40 “He pours contempt on princes and causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;”

All of the attributes of God have been established in righteousness. People may abuse them and apply them incorrectly but when manifested in the Spirit, they bring life.

The sinful nature of man reveals it’s corruption in a multitude of ways.

Mankind’s Heart

Much like God’s approach reveals His nature, mankind reveals his nature as well. The nature of sin presents itself in a variety of emotions.

  • Self-hostility–Just as Jesus endured hostility from those who opposed Him, we should expect the same. Hebrews 12:3 “Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
  • Fear–It doesn’t require much searching to discover fear in people. I lost count of how many people I know or have met who experience anxiety. Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”
  • Shame–Knowing what is right and choosing the alternative leads people into a position of shame. For those who continue to reject the moral compass of God’s law, a hard heart is what they will receive. Isaiah 50:7 “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”
  • Shyness–Being shy or timid can be the symptom of a lack of self-confidence or a lack in understanding God’s leading in our lives. When we focus our purpose on God’s mandate and the power He supplies, even the most timid of people become bold as lions. Psalm 18:28-29 “For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall.”
  • Guilt–Living in a perpetual state of guilt causes people to act irrational. Guilt within the body of Christ leads toward repentance. The moral law is meant to make sin utterly sinful, with the hope that sinners will turn to God’s grace. Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

You may wonder why a blog on sadness includes this litany of different human emotions, and to be honest with you it is these emotions collectively that bring sadness. If we don’t keep our emotions in line with God’s nature, we will find ourselves subjected to the sinful nature within our very being.

We are sad because our perspective is often askew. Sadness can be appropriate at times but shouldn’t overwhelm us. If we don’t move past the moment and see with clarity the position God has placed us in, we can very easily get caught up in a sustained pattern that leads to depression.

Allow the Lord to give you a right perspective, draw strength from the Word of God and rest in His promises. Spend time in God’s presence in prayer, and allow others to strengthen you in time of need. The church that loves one another is the church that is being led by the Spirit of God.

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

If you are in Christ, your apart of the Bride of Christ, and you too have a part in strengthening and encouraging others.

One day, there will be no more tears. What a day that will be.

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