By Elizabeth Prata
I used to spend the Fourth of July in Lubec-Eastport Maine. If you visualize Maine as the profile of a dog, Eastport and Lubec would be the nostrils. These two towns are as far east as you can go in Maine and not be in Canada. The highest tides in the world begin there, with the Bay of Fundy funneling the Atlantic into a small inlet where massive 30′ tides are pushed up then down several times a day. Lubec and Eastport are nautical cities, driven by the sea, which surrounds both of them. And as for the air, there’s cool, fog, and cold. Those are the seasons. (Notice the shadow side on the left and the sunny side on the right. The difference in temps would be at least ten degrees)
Even on the Fourth the temperatures remain cool – in the sun- and out of the sun you will need either long sleeves or a sweatshirt. I loved it.
The Eastport parade drew about 8000-9000 annually, helped by the docking of a navy ship of one kind or another which gave tours. The navy men marched in the parade down Water Street, a sea of white hats swooping down the gentle hill as we clapped for their service and dedication.
I used to get there early because the parade street ran north-south. The sun at the starting time was shining on one side of the street and the other was in shadow. The shadow side was cool and dimmer than the sunny side. It was simply more practical to get there early and be in the warm sun. Some parade-goers huddle under blankets and fleeces on the shady side of the street while waiting for the start of events. It’s cold on that side!
Lately, many of my Christian brothers and sisters are sad. Times are tough, and there is much nonsense, uncertainty, and confusion. But that is not the kind of sad I am talking about- the sadness over the factory closing or not having money to take that trip this year. Not just economic circumstances, but emotionally too.
Jesus was sad, I mean, He was the Man of Sorrows. (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus even wept. (John 11:35). When He arrived at the place where Lazarus had died, Mary fell at His feet weeping, and “Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled,” (John 11:33b). It’s OK to mourn with those who mourn. It’s OK to be sad over your own or others’ sin. It’s OK to be sad at martyrdoms.
But there is a danger in allowing sadness to veer from a righteous emotion that cleanses, and wallowing in it. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines wallowing as “to indulge oneself immoderately.”
One would not normally think of being sad as something one chooses to indulge in, but it is, and is the point of this post. Things happen to us that make us sad, it is part of life. As a strong Christian you are more likely to have events occur that wind up in sadness. The world does not like us. As it is written,
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19).
So prepare to be occasionally sad. But do not choose to wallow.
Yes, wallowing is a choice, one in which all too many Christians indulge. All emotions are a choice. Do you return in your mind to that last dreadful conversation and mentally list all the really terrible things your ex-husband/boss/mother said to you? Do you revisit the terrible circumstances, re-telling it constantly in conversation? Even though it happened last year, ten years ago? Do you sit in your room and cry more often than you sit in your room and praise? You’re wallowing.
Yes, Jesus wept, but look what He did right after that: “So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?” So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb” (John 11:35-38a). Jesus kept moving. He ‘came to the tomb’, He engaged in action, He didn’t sit by the road and cry with His friends who all were crying and had been for days. He kept moving because He had a job to do.
Our job is to be salt and light. We can’t be that if we stop moving. We can’t be that if we are wallowing in sadness over the things that happened to us. If we expend salt on our own tears and our light is dimmed by wallowing, then we are not fulfilling our obligations to the Lord Who also wept, but Who also kept moving.
Notice the photos I included in this essay. There is a sunny side and a shadow side at the parade. One side is warm and bright and the other side is dark and cool. Some choose to be on the dark side. Those who do, stand with coats on, then they sit and grab a blanket, then they start to huddle and shiver, not wanting to move because it is so comfy under the blanket. But it is more comfortable on the sunny side to begin with. It takes a bit of work to get there, making plans to arrive early and staying longer, but the entire experience is warmer and brighter because of the extra effort.
Christians you can choose to be sad and wallow in ‘what he said’ or ‘what she did,’ and that is a never-ending pit because the world hates us and would love to steal your effectiveness as a joyful Christian on the move. Or you can weep but move on to the next task with all the salt and light you can muster. If you have a hard time doing that, ask the Lord for help, and see what He can do: “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11).
Keep on the sunny side, Christians! And keep moving!
There’s a dark and a troubled side of life
There’s a bright, there’s a sunny side, too
Tho’ we meet with the darkness and strife
The sunny side we also may view
[cho:] Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us ev’ry day, it will brighten all the way
If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life
The storm and its fury broke today,
Crushing hopes that we cherish so dear;
Clouds and storms will, in time, pass away
The sun again will shine bright and clear.
Let us greet with the song of hope each day
Tho’ the moment be cloudy or fair
Let us trust in our Saviour away
Who keepeth everyone in His care