Embracing the Low-grade Fever of Sadness

September 22, 2020

What if I told you that the sadness you feel right now is never going to go away…as in ever?

That, right there, is likely to cause some of you to hit delete. No way do you want to consider such a depressing future. I get it. But what if accepting that unvarnished truth is exactly what you need to get through life without losing your mind?

In January of 1997 I was in trouble, emotional trouble. I was frustrated, depressed and angry with my job, people and life. I took an emergency personal retreat to sort things out and likely make the decision to leave my long-time pastoral ministry for ANYTHING else.

At the tail end of my getaway, I “heard” something that I believe was from God. I heard…”you will not be able to carry on until you accept the fact that every day for the rest of your life you will experience a low-grade fever of sadness.”

That was a major turning point in my life.

Instead of being the last straw causing me to say “I’m out!”, it was a revelation. And oddly freeing! A physical low-grade fever is something that doesn’t normally put you in bed. You can actually work through it, though you feel a bit yucky. Same with the low-grade fever of sadness.

To accept it was to relieve myself of the burden of constantly fighting it off. To acknowledge it was to release the pressure of the perfect life. To embrace it was to diminish the power of bitterness.

Was it sobering? You bet. But it was reorienting.

Embracing the low-grade fever of sadness as reality did not diminish the joys of life. As a matter of fact, it made them sweeter. And it ratcheted up my sense of calling and purpose while dialing down, somewhat, the shock of tragedy and sin. I became less naïve, less reactionary, albeit more determined.

Acknowledging the low-grade fever of sadness makes me shrug my shoulders more. I sigh a good deal. But I face life with a deeper sense of destiny. I also pay attention more, aware of the struggle in and around me as well as the comfort of God’s Spirit through it all.

Yes, I am sad…at least a little bit…every day. But I am clear minded and determined. It’s hard to shock me. And it’s equally hard to stop me. I know my purpose is to join in the mission of God for the world to “wipe every tear from their eyes, so that there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.”





1 Comment

  1. Jeff Shrum

    Thank you for sharing this Dave. I have sometimes felt like a hypocrite clapping and and singing at church all the while knowing that life is actually a struggle. It is even a struggle for people of faith. Thank you again for letting others know that they are not alone in how they feel.



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