On Sunday, I preached a sermon based on the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Let me be direct: it’s depressing. The story behind it and most of the original lyrics… down-right depressing stuff. However, as I said Sunday, “That’s life. Life can be very sad.” Let’s be honest. Longfellow was right to be so demoralized as he looked at his life and the world. (He was also right to find hope in his faith!)
As I preached that sermon I thought that I could force some joy into the sadness. So, I told a joke about a blonde calling the fire department. Maybe the misery did have to concede to my joke and the inevitable joy that often lies dormant in our world. Unfortunately, the laughter only holds the tears back for so long.
I say that because the very next day, I got a call that Dr. Steve Winesett had passed away. “Sad” doesn’t begin to express my feelings when I heard the news. “Devastated” is a little closer to the truth. Oddly, I told that blonde joke to someone yesterday and it did not seem nearly as funny. I guess the loss had tainted my sense of humor pretty bluntly.
So, what do I do? What do we all do? What humans have been doing for ages: press on in faith. I trust that the sharp edges of the hurt will subside, light will shine through, and hope will win the day. I remind myself of what Paul tried to teach us: The more it hurts, the more God will comfort us.