When I was a kid I remember being fascinated by TV Game Shows. Maybe it was because we weren’t wired for cable TV until I was 12 years old and thus had to settle for 5 channels and limited choices during hot summer days like “The Price is Right” or “The Young and the Restless.” Although I was Young, the characters in the Soap Opera seemed chronically Restless so it was hard to connect to the story lines. The Game Shows always featured winners and losers but nobody went home as a total loser because the host would always comfort them with “lovely consolation prizes.” Having no idea what “consolation” was, I understood the context of “the consolation prize:” “You lost everything, you really stink at this game and just so you don’t go away completely depressed, to minimize your grief and sadness, we have some prizes to make you happy again.” And that’s not a bad way to think about consolation.
In the book, The Shack, the author wrote about “the Great Sadness,” a time in his life when a tragic event caused a great disconsolation, a grief that was yet to be consoled. His invitation was to meet the Lord in the shack of his pain so that the Lord could console his earthly sadness. Earthly sadness can come from the tragic circumstances of life, painful relationships or self-inflicted by our own sin. Regardless of its point of origination, all Christians at some point in their lives will suffer sadness on the earth. The Lord allows disconsolation so that He can be our consolation.
Today, we are better than ever about burying and over-medicating our sadness. When we do this, we miss out on God’s Consoling Grace. So what is your Great Sadness? What does the Lord need to console in you? The Gospel gives you the courage to engage your sadness so that Christ can be your consolation, your hope for happiness and healing. Meditate, if you will, on the lyrics from an old hymn by Thomas Moore (1816):
Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.
Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure.
Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove.