The Pixar movie “Inside Out” tells the story of an 11 year old girl, Riley, who was uprooted from her home in the Midwest to a new life in San Francisco. In particular it looks at how she tries to navigate the challenges of a new city, a new house and a new school.
What make this story so interesting is that it’s told from the perspective of her emotions. In the control room of her mind, her emotions of Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness each try to take control at different times to help her navigate the upheaval in her life. When the wrong emotion takes charge at the wrong time, then disaster ensues.
When anger is in control he is often just in the moment, and rarely understands the consequences his actions will bring. Fear, whilst offering protection at times, can leave Riley frozen and unable to know what to do next. Perhaps the most fascinating tension is between Joy and Sadness.
Joy wants to invade every moment and as such, is unsure of the part Sadness has to play. Something even Sadness herself doesn’t seem to understand is her role. As a result she is sidelined when she needed to be involved.
Perhaps you have felt the pressure to always be full of joy. Perhaps you see sadness or grief as something to be avoided or sidelined. Yet, what we find in the Bible are not just triumphal moments where everything seems to work out, but real life, where grief and sadness are part of our experience. There are times of lament as well as praise.
In Psalm 31 we have this moment when the author, possibly King David, has come to the end of himself. He is experiencing grief and despair. It is in this moment he goes to God. In verses 10 and 11 of this Psalm we have these words:
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help.” You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
It is in moments of pain when we can find comfort and hope in another. It might be the companionship of a friend, the presence of your family, or even the shoulder of a complete stranger to cry on. What the author of the Psalm discovered was a hope that allowed him to endure and come through the pain. A hope that was found in the presence and reality of God, not outside of the pain, but whilst we experienced it.
If you are going through something difficult at the moment, don’t feel the pressure to sideline or ignore your pain. Understand that this is part of the human experience. In these times, lean on another in the midst of it. Lean on God, and through this let him turn your wailing into dancing, and let him clothe you in joy.