Mourning and Dancing

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble.” Job 14:1

We’re so afraid to be sad. We’re so uncomfortable with our own brokenness. Yet, that’s what we are. We are a broken people, living in a broken world, trying to navigate this life alongside other equally broken people. It can get messy sometimes. 

In fact, it most assuredly will.

That’s the expectation—or at least it should be. We should expect to be caught up in the backwash of a broken, flawed humanity, and we should expect that we will be sailing into choppy seas sometime in the future, if we’re not there currently.

Scripture tells from the very beginning of creation there was death and destruction. Humanity did not get very far before a world of hardship made itself known to its inhabitants. But, that’s where proper expectations can help a great deal. When we experience the storms of life, knowing we live in a difficult world, we are able to say, “I’ve been expecting you,” which really can make all the difference. 

Storms are always less traumatic when we’re prepared.

Of course, this does not mean we should live in fear or in a state of bleakness. Learning to properly mourn the darkness that surrounds us in this broken world and also to embrace the light that surrounds us—which is made all the more beautiful when compared to the darkness—makes for a well-adjusted, healthy spiritual life.

Henri Nouwen, author of Suffering and Joy, wrote, “We tend to stay away from mourning and dancing. Too afraid to cry, too shy to dance … While we live in a world subject to the evil one, we belong to God. Let us mourn, and let us dance.”

We live in a world of sorrows, and we only model the example of Christ when we mourn and cry over the brokenness we find ourselves surrounded by. This is indeed a healthy spiritual practice. Yet, we also model the example of Christ when we rejoice and celebrate that the Great Healer is on the move.

While we currently live on the turf of the enemy, the future is one where God will indeed, “Wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new’” (Revelation 21:4-5).

Until then, we are merely living in what C.S. Lewis calls “The Shadowlands:” just a dull, barely recognizable, glimpse of the life to come. We are working toward the real life, the one we were created to be absorbed into, the one we were created to be fulfilled by, and to finally feel at home and at rest.

Let us dance when times are good, and let us mourn—and mourn deeply without embarrassment—when times are bad. Knowing troubles are going to come while we still live in this small, poor representation of what life is supposed to be, while looking forward to the day when the very hand of God will wipe away every tear that has ever fallen on our cheek, really does beg the question, “Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

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