Sunday mornings can be anything but joyous. How many Sabbaths are spent doing last-minute ironing and rousing sleepy children after busy weekend activities in an attempt to get to the church on time? How often are smiles slapped on when the car door slams in the parking lot? Add needing to arrive early or frantic searching for a missing Bible, and emotional reserve becomes depleted exponentially.
We make excuses. We want our own way. Maybe nodding heads in church stem from losing sleep over wondering, “What will be the problem this week?”
That could be the problem. We wear ourselves out believing a day of rest means it will be problem-free. The fact is we live in a mean world where sadness and happiness are elusive at best.
The false assumption is that causing a problem for others will solve our own sadness. In reality, it only results in growing angst and further conflict.
I often operate under another false assumption. I try to make everyone happy. In the process, I make myself miserable. I rarely find anyone to commiserate with me in these moments. Why? For one, I don’t want to make them unhappy with my misery. I become miserly about my misery. Consequently, my misery overwhelms me and makes everyone miserable. That makes me more miserable. But, there is another reason.
Sometimes it is impossible to make another person happy.
Happiness and sadness are skin-deep emotions. They are “likes” on Facebook or emoticons in a text message. They convey only a surface condition. We can wipe smiles off our faces as quickly as we can swipe away tears.
Sorrow is our souls’ deep caverns only a few are allowed to enter. These are the tombs for our unfulfilled, unrealized dreams. One would hope we could share these dark abysmal places with our church families. But, doing that can cause more fear than the sorrow’s bleakness. If only there was peace beyond understanding instead of festering anxiety of being misunderstood.
Yet, emerging from sorrow is akin to a glowing promise of escaping daily life’s dank, dreary labyrinth of endless tunnels. Crawling on hands and knees and squinting into brilliant morning sun is dawning joy. Sunday mornings should cast an ultraviolet beam over the entire week.
Joyless Sundays are not about the battle week after week of getting to church on time. The problem is not trying to make someone sad or happy. The problem is not the sequestered, misunderstood sorrow.
The problem is reluctance to crawl on hands and knees toward the promised escape God provides each Sunday in order to squint at His Joy’s dawning brilliance every morning.
“If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
Yes! God says so! Isaiah 58:13-14 MSG