His shoulders can bear the weight...

The Bible tells us a LOT of things.

It tells us stories.

It tells us what character traits to aspire to and which ones to avoid.

It tells us about salvation and hope and sin and redemption.

It tells us what God is like and how he feels about His people.

It even unexpectedly tells us some pretty solid advice for dealing with mold infestations. (Look it up, Im a worship leader - we NEVER lie 😜)

But the Bible never tells us what to feel.

A subtle thing that has crept into the church is an overwhelming emphasis on positivity. For the most part this appropriate and awesome - gospel does mean “good news” after all and life with Jesus is worth celebrating. Our band certainly has a reputation for being pretty joy-focused - we have at least 3 songs I can think of with “joy” in the title and our confetti: song ratio has gone a sort of Katy Perry direction of late! So we’re by no means saying it’s all bad.

The only problem comes when we encounter something in our lives that we just can’t respond to with streamers and ticker tape. When we lose our income overnight and can’t even bear to open our mobile banking app. When a family member passes and leaves a Grand Canyon sized hole in your life. When you wake up wondering if that weight on your chest is just a part of you now, if laughter is just a memory.

At times like these, maybe you don’t feel like rolling the windows down and air-punching your way through a victory anthem. And because of the church’s emphasis on triumph and positivity, maybe you feel less “Christian” because you can’t sing that song right now. Maybe you feel the pressure to be “happy clappy”(as Graham Norton once derisively called our band). Or worse, maybe you’re trying to muscle through with a smile but now you feel guilty and dishonest.

I’m here to tell you that God isn’t putting you under that kind of pressure. His broad, cross-carrying shoulders can bear the weight of even your heaviest sorrows.

The Psalms are the hymnbook in the middle of our Bibles, and 2/3 of this hymnbook is made up of lament. Such feelgood hits as “Break the teeth in their mouths” and “Why have you forsaken me?” were published there.

To paraphrase Walter Brueggeman, we’re welcome to sing happy songs in the face of raw reality, but we should do so fully aware that this isn’t what the Bible does.

Pixar made the point in the brilliant movie, Inside Out, that making room for sadness is actually the only pathway to authentic joy sometimes - but the Bible was there a few thousand years ahead of them..

Feel what you need to feel right now - joyful, triumphant, defiant, crushed, abandoned, elated or whiny. There’s nothing you could express or emote that hasn’t found its way into scripture. It’s all Biblical.

After all, what is grace if it’s not a wide open space to be your real self before the real God?

Be yourself. God loves that guy/girl.

Rend Co.

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