Have you noticed that we try so hard to be happy? Sometimes it’s important, but sometimes it’s a sham. It’s a sham when we try to deny that something has gone wrong, that life didn’t move forward as we had hoped and wanted.

October 26th of this year was one of those days for me. I woke up realizing that it was my Grandpa’s birthday. Al Renke would have been 99 years old this year. In a family of short stocky Germans, he was larger than life in his slim 6’ 2” frame. He taught me golf. And he exhibited a staunch commitment to the Word of God and the church. But he’s been gone for 19 years. I still miss him.

It was also the day when I had to let go of Otis. Otis is the bulldog we took in 5 ½ years ago. He was a lot of work. If you ever had the privilege of meeting him, your pant legs have never been the same. Just a dog – I know, that’s what I want to say – but he wasn’t. He was Otis. The house will be quieter and cleaner. Please don’t feel so bad for us that you bring us another dog – Kris says, “no!”

But as I’m sitting here in the shadow of my melancholy day, I can say with confidence, “There is nothing wrong with a little sadness.”

Ecclesiastes 7:3-5
3 Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools.

Sadness indicates that something we thought valuable has gone. It means that what we had and lost really meant something to us. That’s a good sign. We are not so shallow that we don’t stop to feel our losses. It means we can fully appreciate what we had. And that’s a good thing.

Sadness points us to look for a better future. If all of life was good now, we would have no need for eternity with our God who redeems the evil. The truth is, this world is imperfect and we are imperfect because of sin. We can’t ignore that and pretend all is well – that would be foolishness. But instead, we know, in Jesus we have a hope that all will be restored and resolved. And it makes me long for that day!

Sadness can be an indication that God is making adjustments to our lives, for something even greater! Remember the sadness of leaving friends behind to go to a new job, or new home? This is hard, but it is often part of God’s moving. He makes us more dependent on Him in those times. And the blessing of growth and new experiences remind us that the sadness wasn’t for naught.

But there is a caution, sadness should never stay around too long. If it does, it can lead to anxiety, anger and depression. We can’t be controlled by our sadness, because on the other side of the reality of loss, there is the reality of hope. Christ has given us new life. And that is always reason to rejoice!

Sometimes “Giving Thanks” is hard. At this time of year, a lot of us feel sadness. Well, maybe you could even give thanks for the sadness, because it means you experienced the value of someone or something. And you can look forward to the day, when in the presence of Jesus, “sadness will be no more.”

What was the last thing you got sad over? Did it surprise you?