A Strange Command

Keep your head up. It's not that bad. Stay positive. Don't let it bring you down.

We are used to hearing these common sayings as well as offering up the same advice if someone close to us is feeling discouraged.

But what about this? James counsels, "Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom" (James 4:9). It sounds quite strange, doesn't it? What does the Scripture have in mind in saying this?

To be sure, the Christian should live a life of victory and joy. Yet there is a time when we need to be brought low. There is the occasion in which we must recognize our sinfulness and repent.