A sad face is good for the heart

I received a comment from my “Are you hungry?” post.  Instead of posting a lengthy comment there I have decided to write one here.  The question posted was, “Is it possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and be sad at the same time?”  There were several thoughts that came to mind as I read this question.  If anyone would like to add to the discussion please jump in. 

One thing about sadness and the Christian I believe is that the sadness should draw us closer to God.  Ecclesiastes 7:3 states, “Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.”(NIV).  I first came in contact with this verse back in the late 80’s when The Choir released their CD Chase the Kangaroo.  The song “Sad Face” has been a great inspiration to me over the years.

I loved the song then as I do now.  This verse puzzled me as a young believer.  I was in a church at the time that was very focused on the Holy Spirit.  (Can one get out of balance when it comes to the Holy Spirit?)  I felt as though when something “bad” happened to me that there was something wrong (with me)… like I wasn’t spiritual (enough) or I wasn’t as good as the other believers I hung out with…  Or I was out of God’s will.

I remember a night when I shared this verse sitting in the worship center with some of the youth and youth leaders.  I basically said then that it is OK to have issues of sadness, loneliness, etc… then quoted this verse.  But I didn’t understand what it really meant.  I had not ever drank from the cup of true sadness and hurt.

Before I go there lets look at John 16 where Jesus talks to his disciples about the coming work of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says,

Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you…  (v 5-7).

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you…  (v. 13-15).

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (v. 20-24).

I think now I have come to understand sadness and how it relates to my walk with God as a Christian.  As a young believer in my late teens early 20’s, I had not had the opportunity to walk a road of real sadness, heartbreak, separatedness, etc.  Now that I am in my young 40’s I have had a taste of that road.  I think I am beginning to understand why sadness is allowed in the life of the Holy Spirit driven believer.  Jesus said, “Your grief will turn to joy.”  He goes on to say, “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

As a Christian, I believe it is possible to become sad and to stay there – to live in sadness that ultimately leads to a depression.  Remember Jesus said, “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”  It’s in those times of sadness He wants us to come to Him.  It is through turning over that situation with trust to the Father so that the Counselor has opportunity to work in our lives.  If we choose to sit in our sadness we choose to stay focused on ourselves – which leads to bondage in self pity.

…the greatest destroyer of that confident relationship to God, so necessary for intercession, is our own personal sympathy and preconceived bias. Identification with God is the key to intercession, and whenever we stop being identified with Him it is because of our sympathy with others, not because of sin. It is not likely that sin will interfere with our intercessory relationship with God, but sympathy will. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 3).

I know there is so much more that can be said on this.  This is probably not even an answer to the question but rather the beginning of a dialogue on the subject.  Below is the song that I referenced above.

Sad Face by Steve Hindalong as performed by The Choir.  I think this song was written after Hindalong’s wife miscarried their baby.  You may also recognize the name Steve Hindalong as the co-writer of the song God of Wonders we have all come to love in our churches.

There’s a crystal in the window
Throwing rainbows around
There’s a girl by the mirror
And her feet won’t touch the ground
‘Cause she never saw the sky so bright
Isn’t that like a cloud, to come by night
Nevermind the sky
There’s a tear in her eye

A sad face is good for the heart
Go on cry, does it seem a cruel world?
A sad face is good for the heart of a girl
A sad face

There’s a woman in my kitchen
With a rainbow on her cheek
Well isn’t that a promise?
Still I never felt so weak
There’s a tiny spirit in a world above
Cradled so sweetly in our Father’s love
So you don’t have to cry
No there’s something in my eye

A sad face is good for the heart
Maybe just now I don’t understand
A sad face is good for the heart of a man
A sad face

A sad face is good for the heart
It’s alright you don’t have to smile
A sad face is good for the heart of a child
For the heart of a child
For the heart of a child
For the heart of a child
A sad face
A sad face…

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