Things Will Start Looking Up

Elijah alone by pool

Elijah feeling sad

The picture I chose for this post admittedly makes me sad. I don’t like to remember Elijah as being sad, but it reminded me that sadness is infectious. When we feel down, it’s easy to bring others down with us.

As an emotion, ‘up’ and ‘down’ are charged with positive and negative feelings. We judge ‘up’ as good and ‘down’ as bad. Others around us can usually tell when we are feeling down. It shows in our faces. We can see it in each other’s eyes. And if you are feeling down, someone’s likely to tell you that things will start looking up soon.

Just as gravity weighs down physical objects, dragging them down rather than up, so our negative emotions act as gravity to our souls. Pain and sorrow weigh us down. They can make our faces look sad and our heads feel heavy.

It’s as though there is an imaginary link between the heart and the head. When we are lighthearted we find that our heads are held high. But when our hearts are heavy, our heads droop. Our eyes focus on the ground. The oppressive weight of grief, disappointment and failure can make our heads feel so heavy we want to bury our foreheads in our hands.

Adults can sometimes hide the weight of sorrow, acting as though everything is normal. But children are much easier to read. When a child is sad, everyone knows! The lower lip sticks out, the eyes focus on the floor, and the chin touches the chest. I’ve seen it countless times from my kids. Sometimes it makes me smile to see how transparent they are.

What does a parent do when their kids are feeling sad? My favorite solution is to convert their pouting to smiling. I would touch them under their chin, lift up their face and make them look me in the eye. I don’t know why smiling is naturally contagious, but it seems to be a Godly cure for sadness. It’s miraculous in its effect. When my two year old granddaughter Ellie pouts, I mimic her pout (with a slight grin) and make sure she looks me in the eye. Then we break out in spontaneous laughter.

Did you know that God also tries to lift up our spirits when we are feeling down? The psalmist says that God is the lifter of our heads. “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” (Psalm 3:3). He wants us to know joy, not sorrow. Maybe that’s why we think of heaven as somewhere ‘up’ rather than ‘down’. When we look to heaven, we are forced to look upward.

Have you noticed that it’s harder to feel sad when you are looking up? Try burying you head in your hands when you are sad and see how that simply keeps you feeling even sadder. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way these past few months since we lost Elijah. I have to force myself to raise my countenance and look heavenward.

It helps when I think of God’s finger under my chin, gently lifting my face to see him eye to eye. I know He is smiling at me. And His smile is definitely infectious!

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you…” (Psalm 145:14-15).


Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ this post as you find it helpful and inspiring. Thank you.

-Ken Buchanan

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