We laugh and dance at weddings. We weep and move sedately at funerals. The state of the heart is embossed upon the face and sculpted into body language. As Proverbs 15:13 says,
A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
About this verse, Matthew Henry says, “A cheerful spirit, under the government of wisdom and grace, is a great ornament to religion, puts a further lustre upon the beauty of holiness, and makes men the more capable of doing good.”
On the other hand, if sorrow fills the heart, it displaces other emotions and gains dominion. Despair tyrannizes, breaks down the spirit, and impairs service by depleting energy and hindering efforts. Overmuch sorrow conveys to others the message that Christ is not a source of joy superseding all sorrows.
But Christ is the superseding source of joy no matter what sorrows we also experience. In Him there is grace, peace with God, justification, righteousness, freedom from sin, hope of heaven, and a treasure chest of other golden valuables.
We are not helpless to our feelings. Joy and sadness are choices. Yet they need not be mutually exclusive; joy and sorrow can reside simultaneously in the same heart. In the midst of unimaginable loss and sorrow Job still said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” So then, although the turning years of earthly life phase through seasons for weeping, we must not allow tears of sorrow to overfill the heart lest they drown all joy. The Lord is still on His throne.
A season of grief over legitimate causes for sorrow or mourning is right and respectful. While not denying sadness, we can inject into our sorrow thanksgivings and praises to the Lord. Even when sad, we can speak joyful words to others, such as thanksgiving to God, gladness at the blessings others receive, drawing people’s attention to good things around us, or discussion of His works as explained in His Word. Christ deserves the honor of our joy and chosen joy is good medicine for our own hearts and health (Prov. 17:22).