I remember the last time that I cried. I was perhaps 10 or 11 years old. We were in a restaurant and I was suddenly overcome with emotion and just started crying. I didn’t know how to explain that I was just overwhelmed and exhausted, so I said something about my food.
My dad was furious. He was definitely of the “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” school of thought. He lectured me on gratitude. If I am thankful, then I wouldn’t be crying…
I started to learn how to mask any tears. Tears are always associated in my subconscious with sinful weakness. Maybe one day I will have a breakthrough and learn how to ugly-cry again. I think I might need it.
Anyway, the reason that I am bringing it up is that there is a discussion on Twitter about depression. Someone stated, “Jesus never suffered from depression.”
In order to make that statement, you would have to define depression. If you mean it colloquially, as in, “someone so overwhelmed with grief that they feel like they are dying, then it is easy to demonstrate that Jesus did indeed suffer from that kind of grief”. He was sorrowful to the point of death at Gethsemane.
If, however, you mean the clinical definition of depression, we don’t have the evidence one way or another. He also never got the flu (at least that we know of from scripture) but I am hard-pressed to know what the point is.
I think that the point of the original post is that depression, however you define it, is sin and if someone had proper gratitude then depression will flee away. Just in time for thanksgiving, someone always resurrects the idea that if one is truly thankful in everything, then there is no room for sadness, grief or depression.
Lose a child? Chin up. You can always have another.
Divorce? You’ll find someone else.
Don’t worry. Be happy. Count your blessings.
Be thankful, and all your worries and griefs will be whisked away.
12 years ago, I lost a child two weeks before thanksgiving. That is a long story, one that I might have the courage to tell one day.
So I want to write this to everyone who is having a hard time counting their blessings this year. I get it. The food tastes like sawdust in the mouth. The painful lump in the back of the throat. The tears that are always threatening, and the subconscious effort to make sure that they don’t burst the dam.
You don’t want to ruin everyone’s thanksgiving. And so you try to be a bit more thankful. If only you would repent of your ingratitude, then you wouldn’t be a bother to anyone else.
Please take this as an encouragement. This world is so, so often a valley of tears. And gratitude and grief often reside in the same breast.
And that’s OK. In fact, that is exactly what redeemed humanity looks like this side of glory. We take up our crosses with him. We cry out with him in Gethsemane. And we remember the joy that is also set before us. It isn’t here.
My dad, who hated any displays of emotion, also would say, “God would not have us be too much at home here.” Our affections are where Christ is seated, at God’s right hand. This is where our thanksgiving is. That God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.
The tears will be wiped away. The curse of death destroyed. The presence of God will be with a redeemed humanity, where the lamb is the light and there is no more sea of uncertainty and danger, no more night of weeping and cold sweats and relived trauma.
But today is not that day. Today, we live by faith and not by sight.
Which means that grief and gratitude reside in the same breast.
Let your children cry. Even for no reason. Let your friends and family weep.
Let them be downcast and mourn, for sometimes the weight is so, so heavy. Spend your thanksgiving with friends and family who know how to weep together, as well as rejoice together. This doesn’t mean that they are unthankful. It simply means that they see the gap between the already and the not yet.
They see the gap between Eden and East of Eden, and they are longing – so, so much – to be back home in Eden, where Christ is at the right hand of God.
Doesn’t the bride weep while the groom is absent?
When the groom appears, all tears will be wiped away. Until then, friends, don’t be ashamed of the tears. The groom is coming.