We hid behind our pastor as we rushed out of the sanctuary.
Our weeping during the service prompted him to bring us to another room where we could cry and talk. We were in the middle of the darkest days of our lives, walking through our first pregnancy knowing that our son was going to die. Our pastor’s compassion was tangible as he listened to our pain, wept with us, and prayed.
This escape was helpful, but what occurred that day has not sat well with us ever since. Being brought out of the service to weep in private felt entirely appropriate in the moment. It seemed necessary and normal. But it shouldn’t have.
Sorrow should not have to get escorted out of the sanctuary.
This is by no means a critique of our pastor. On the contrary. His loving instinct was that we needed space to release our grief. He was right. That’s exactly what our hearts required. But the way we shape our worship services in our culture tends to leave little room to lament. So our pastor, being the good shepherd that he is, had to create it elsewhere. In another room. In private.
I imagine that countless aching souls also long for a release when they gather with the church. We stumble in under the weight of our burdens and wonder if others are struggling too. But the tone, posture, and songs of Sunday mornings capture the joy of faith but are far from the honest wrestling also represented in the scriptures. We rejoice together, but we weep separately (Rom. 12:15).
It would be beautifully biblical to make space for sorrow in the service rather than needing to create it somewhere else. Sadness wouldn’t need to be forced down or rushed away, but brought in and cried out.
We need both celebration and lamentation when we gather. Because of Christ, we have much to rejoice in. But because of sin and suffering, we have much to mourn. The church exists in this tension as one body until Jesus returns. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
Pay attention on Sunday. Is the body you belong to rejoicing and suffering together? If so, thank God. If not, be a voice for the hurting and help your church make space for both.