The past few months have been pretty intense, emotionally, for me. I've experienced gut-wrenching loneliness, being misunderstood, depression, and I'm not ashamed to say it, suicidal thoughts.
While I am coming out of that hole fairly quickly, this phase has caused me to rethink my views on sadness, darkness, the meaning of I hate my life. As I look around me, I've noticed that Christians, and really people in general, have a pretty low tolerance for pain and brokenness. It's not so much because we don't accept it as part of life, we just don't know how to handle it.
A friend of mine once noted that, perhaps the reason we people are so clumsy around tears and grief is because Yahweh never intended for us to know pain in the first place. The Garden was a refuge of joy, freedom, peace, tangible bliss. With the bite of forbidden fruit, all perfection became blurred, and Life As It Should Be became a figment of wishful thinking.
In a world of superficial happiness and fake "fines," society has forgotten how to mourn and feel deeply. And for those who do have the guts to let their heart breathe, oftentimes the emotions overtake them, leading them to cynicism, numbness, and even death.
Even in the Church, the upbeat messages of "rejoice always" and "God is love" override the realities of "weep with those who weep." When a fellow believer is buried under with trials and tribulations, Christians are known to slap an applicable Bible verse on the wound and continue walking along. Even the one bearing the pain himself, he can feel isolated, like something is wrong with him. The cultural expectation to always be happy has seeped into the Church and with its message, a disrespect for burden bearing and sorrow has been the byproduct.
The humanity of Christ has been a comfort to me as I've walked through this season. He did not think of Himself so high to be removed from emotional pain and rejection. "A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" - the Son of God was moved to tears when his friend died, He was forsaken by His Father, even as He hung dying, He was scorned. "Therefore, it was necessary for Him to made in every respect like us, His brothers and sister, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. . . . Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested" (Hebrews 2:17-18, NLT). He was good enough to feel every torment and ache known to man, so that He might rescue us and offer true rest for our souls.
Looking at the example of Jesus, there is no reason why we can't be a little more noticing, more urgent to care for another's pain. Sometimes a quick prayer and Bible verse isn't what is needed; dare I say, most of the time that's not the case. But to sit still, let them talk, hold them, let them cry, cry with them - this is humble service to the heart that is battered and torn. In so doing, we bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.