Unless I missed it, the song “Everything Is Awesome” from the LEGO movie is nowhere to be found in scripture. In fact, look at the Psalms and you will read the songs and prayers of a man who knew suffering.
King David knew what it was to be misunderstood, betrayed and left mentally exhausted. And yet, most of the time, put a Christian in a painful situation, and nine times out of 10 they will slap a smile on their face and recite a ridiculous number of platitudes. “I’m too blessed to be stressed” or “God’s got me. I’ll be OK” to name but a few, all the while they are dying inside.
Funny thing is, nowhere in the Bible do we see people speaking in such clichés and trying to hold it all together. Jesus Himself demonstrated that when people were hurting, He hurt too. When Lazarus had died, He didn’t walk in and say, “Hey guys! I’m here. Put a smile on your face and be grateful. I’m about to do something awesome!” No. He talked with Martha and Mary. He heard their hearts. He wept. He felt the pain of those He loved and He grieved (John 11:35).
Whether you are single, married, young, old, male or female, we all have bad days. Sometimes there are bad weeks, months, and even years, and it feels like a struggle to stay positive. There are times in our lives when we feel like we are fighting one bad situation after another. And if you are like me, we feel guilty that we are experiencing sadness because as a Christian, we should be joyful at all times, right?
But in John 11, Jesus showed us that He prioritized a person’s heart over a result. Before He performed the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, He felt with, grieved with and comforted those in pain.
In another passage of scripture, Jesus also said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). How can we be comforted if we don’t mourn? How can we experience the true impact of the comfort of the Holy Spirit while we are masking our pain?
The Western Church has become so very fixated with results. Some churches want results seen in healing miracles. Other churches want results in numbers of converts and church growth. And whilst it’s easy to criticize church leaders for thinking about the numbers, we all live our lives looking for results. We have specific “results” that we are asking God for and we ask for them everyday. Have my prayers been answered yet? Do I have the promotion that I have been asking God for? Has that family drama been resolved? Do I have the money to buy a new car? Why am I not married yet? When will my spouse stay faithful to me? Is the doctor going to call me and tell me that I am healed? Please God, let me go full-term and not miscarry another baby!
And while praying for these things is a good thing, becoming fixated on the “result” can be so destructive to our hearts. When circumstances don’t change in accordance with our timeline and expectations, disappointment and resentment seeps into our hearts. Before we know it, we are mad at God for forgetting about us but we are simultaneously trying to keep a smile on our faces.
But like we saw with Lazarus, Jesus walked up to Mary and Martha and loved them BEFORE He gave them a “result”. He mourned with them, cried with them, and let them know that He was present.
Maybe it’s time for us to let go of the false doctrine that everything has to be awesome. Perhaps it’s time that we put down our masks and let our true selves be seen. Perhaps it’s time we let God close to us in our grief, and like Mary and Martha, pour out our hearts to a God who genuinely cares.
Scripture shows that our pain matters. It’s OK to be in pain. It’s not a sin to grieve. We are not in unbelief when we are mourning a loss. But before God gives us a miracle, maybe He wants to come close and comfort us? Maybe He wants to grieve with us and let us know that He is present in our pain?
Like Mary and Mary, everything does not have to be awesome. Take off the mask. Grieve. Cry. And let God come close.