I hope I clarified the little bit on Wednesday that emotions are not necessarily bad things, but I also think that emotions are actually good things. It is not just a matter of something not being bad. If it was simply a question of that, then they might as well be morally neutral things. However, I would like to contend that the ability to have emotions and the ability to feel are actually good things.
As an illustration, consider Jesus weeping at the death of Lazarus. This is one of my favorite Biblical illustrations, and the fascinating part for me is that Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. However, He still wept alongside all of the other people who were present.
Clearly, sadness cannot be wrong. If it was wrong, then Jesus would not have been sad because by virtue of who Jesus was, He never did anything that was wrong.
Sadness therefore is certainly an acceptable emotion for any Christian in its appropriate place. However, I said that emotions are good things, and how can sadness possibly be good? Obviously it might not be a wrong thing, but that doesn’t mean it is therefore good. One does not necessarily entail the other.
I will admit that I am not generally very sad when I read the account of Lazarus. Part of that is probably that I know the end of the story. I know it has a happy ending. However, I also do not know him. He is not a friend of mine, so I am not nearly as sad because I was not nearly as attached to the person of Lazarus as Jesus for example was.
That attachment is a prerequisite for sadness in a kind of bizarre irony. It is hard to be sad about something you don’t love, but I would contend that caring is also an emotion. In fact, it is an emotion that I think most people would agree is a good thing. It is good to love other people and develop relationships with them in various capacities.
We then come to an important tipping point. Would it be better to have never had that loving relationship in the first place? Without becoming attached, we certainly would not have had the sadness at the end.
It is good to have things that we love. In fact, it is good to be in relationships with other people. It is good to enjoy the world around us. Yes, that does put us at risk at times that things can depart. However, it seems to me that the reward vastly outweighs the risk. Our lives are so much richer from caring about other people that I really don’t know how to experience that good other than to accept the reality that in our fallen world, there can be sorrow as a result. Otherwise, we would be trapped in a world with no hope where we only experience loss, and we would never gain the benefits of community and love that we can have when we put ourselves out there.