Jump Start # 3476
Ecclesiastes 7:3 “Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad a heart may be happy.”
Note: Monday is a holiday. There will not be a Jump Start posted that day. Enjoy the time with family.
Here in Ecclesiastes, Solomon runs through a list of contrasts that we might argue with him about. He says a good name is better than good ointment. Now, I hear someone saying, “I really don’t care what people think about me. I’d take the expensive perfume.” Not what Solomon said.
Within the same verse Solomon adds, the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. Most wouldn’t agree with that. There is nothing good about death, especially as our current culture sees it. Our verse soon follows. Sorrow, Solomon says, is better than laughter. You won’t find many agreeing with that.
Our Jump Starts yesterday talked about tears in a bottle, from a passage in Psalms. The holiday season, rich in joy and laughter is often a difficult period for many people. A death brings loneliness. Things once shared cannot be shared now. A problem in the family has brought separation and estrangement. A divorce. People no longer talking to each other. Accusations. Angry words uttered. And, the holidays bring tears rather than smiles.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not a psychologist or a therapist. I’m just a simple preacher. But let me share some thoughts with you.
First, as you suffer with the pain, you do not suffer alone. God knows. Our article yesterday, tears in a bottle, reminds us that God is with you when others won’t or can’t. The Lord is good. Use the time to rejoice in wonderful memories. Don’t sorrow for what you do not have, but rejoice in what you did have. Use the holidays to help others. Don’t be a victim. Your example can left the sorrows of others. Thank the Lord.
Second, as you shuffle through different feelings and emotions, realize friends and family are uneasy about what to say. If they talk about your deceased loved one, that might make you cry and they don’t want to do that. But, if they don’t say anything, you might think that they no longer care or remember. Put others at ease. If you feel like talking about the past and loved ones who have died, take the lead in those conversations. Sometimes a good cry is helpful and healthy. Among the tears, you will find memories to laugh about.
As you talk about a loved one who has passed away, it is a great occasion to tuck a little Bible lesson in those conversations about our walk with the Lord and eternity. Death from the standpoint of God is not the end. Hope and faith can shine brightly when we talk about those things.
Third, there is a scene in the first Home Alone movie in which Kevin’s neighbor hasn’t talked with his grown son in some time. Things were said. Kevin encourages the old man to call his son. There is a moment when Kevin looking through his window, sees the neighbor hugging his son who has come to visit. And, what a great reminder for us. Maybe we need to make a phone call. Maybe it’s time to build bridges rather than fences. We may be waiting for them to reach out, and they may be waiting for you to reach out. And, as you both wait on each other, time passes. Be the first to extend grace. Be the first to try to reconcile.
And, if the other person doesn’t want a bridge, you have done your part. You will continue to pray. You will continue to be kind. You will continue to love. Religious differences have put major wedges between family members. It was so bad in the first century, that the Lord said, there would be fathers who delivered up their sons to be put to death.
Some families just never started off on the right foot. Dysfunction has been a part of every day. Sin and selfishness has ruined many homes. Disciples often have to draw lines and establish boundaries as to what kind of relationship they can have with family members who would rather walk with Satan than the Savior. Loving at a distance may be the best that some can do.
Finally, don’t wear your sorrow and pain on your sleeves for others to feel bad about. When the talk is about what everyone did for the holidays, don’t say, “Nothing. I was alone. I stayed home by myself.” That’s a plea for pity and no one likes to attend a pity party. Even if that is the case, find ways to rejoice, reflect and be thankful. Spend time with your church family. Find a friend and go out to dinner.
Home for the holidays can be a painful experience for some families. Make it the best that you can.