I Won't Dance, and I Won't Weep
I think we all can agree that we were unreasonable when we were kids. By no means were we sound or logical in our tantrums and fits. We didn’t think through our actions or emotions, we just reacted to them. I specifically remember times where I refused to be happy. Usually, because it was in response to not getting what I wanted. If I wanted a certain meal, that was it, nothing else. You couldn’t talk me out of it, you couldn’t persuade me to want something else, there was no negotiating. I not only know this was true in myself then, but I now see it in my children today!
But is this behavior only found in adolescence? Do we eventually grow out of this mindset? Recently, a particular passage in Luke caused me to reflect on this concept,
“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ For John, the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’' (Luke 7:31-34)
Jesus had just finished answering John the Baptists’ followers. They were sent on behalf of John to seek out if Jesus was the one to fulfill the prophecy of the promised Messiah. Jesus' answer draws praise and professions of faith (Luke 7:29), but the Pharisees refused his answer or as Luke writes: they, "rejected the purpose of God for themselves" (Luke 7:30). To which Jesus responds with the passage above.
Jesus’s words expose that these Pharisees and lawyers are simply refusing to be pleased. They hate John the Baptist, and they hate Jesus. Both men appear to be total opposites of one another (Luke 7:33-34), yet equally despised. The strange example Jesus uses in v. 32 may be a quote of a common song or poem used in that day's culture. The song depicts a scene of kids trying to encourage other kids who are refusing to participate. They play songs to dance to, but the children refuse to dance. They sing songs of sorrow, but the children refuse to weep. They won’t dance, and they won’t weep. They adamantly refuse to do or feel anything. In short, the Pharisees are behaving like children.
Why? Because Jesus wasn’t what they wanted. They thought the coming of the Messiah would be different, would look different, would sound different. Instead, they got Jesus. The Pharisees knew the Scriptures better than anyone, but they completely missed what they were all about. Jesus wasn’t what they were expecting or wanted — so they rejected him (John 5:39-40). There’s a lesson here: some people simply cannot be pleased. No matter what you do for them, they will be stubborn and will choose to stay in their misery and bitterness rather than change. There’s no music to play, no song to sing, no person to send that will change their heart. If they don’t get what they want, they won’t settle for anything less. I have a feeling this may be more relatable to us than we think.
The truth is, God withholds no good thing from us (Psalm 84:11), He satisfies our souls with good things (Psalm 107:9). Furthermore, because of the Gospel, God gives us all things needed for this life to fulfill His purposes for us (Romans 8:32, Ecclesiastes 2:10). As a perfect Father, God tells us that if we ask we will receive, if we knock we will be answered, if we seek we will find - as regular, broken, sinful parents do not deceivingly give us that which is bad for us, God as a perfect Father will surely give us good things when sought (Matthew 7:7-11). The sobering reality of these good things is that it’s usually not what we want or think we need. The disconnect is, we don’t interpret it this way, because, to us, only prayers answered in ways we want are truly answered prayers or considered good things.
God’s answer to prayers centers around his purposes, which center around his Son. It’s funny how we can go through life not realizing, like the Pharisees and lawyers, that it’s all about Jesus. God wants to make us more like him (Romans 8:28-29), unite all things through him (Ephesians 1:9-10), has made everything by and for him (Colossians 1:16), and ultimately will have every knee in heaven and on earth bow to his name (Philippians 2:9-10). He gives us Jesus and then more Jesus, but like the Pharisees, we have different expectations, if we’re being honest, we don’t always want Jesus.
Life is hard. It has many seasons with a variety of emotional experiences tied to each (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). There are inevitably moments in life designed for weeping, laughing, mourning, and dancing. They can’t be avoided or stopped; they are designed perfectly to grow you (Hebrews 12:5-11). Nothing enters your life that isn’t sent with a purpose from your perfect, loving Father. It may be a season marked by weeping, or it could be a season full of laughter.
When life goes awry, there’s a temptation to react to life as the Pharisees did. You didn’t get what you asked for, so now you’re taking a stance of refusal until God budges. Isn’t that why kids reject anything else that isn’t what they want? I’d say no to everything thinking my parents would have to give in. It didn’t work with them and the bad news is, that doesn’t work with God either. He isn’t intimated by your stubbornness to move and obey. And quite honestly, He will out-last you.
If you are someone who has been hurt or discouraged by the unforeseen and unfortunate turns of fate, hear me. Don’t reject God’s purposes for your life in Christ as the Pharisees did. Don’t react to his perfect wisdom and fatherhood of your life like those children that refused to do or feel anything. If you are in a season of weeping, embrace the pain and difficulty with the Lord and weep through prayers full of questions while finding hope and confidence in His plans and purposes in Christ. If you are in a season of dancing or celebration, take advantage of this time of joy and blessing and worship the Lord who is showering you with reminders of his goodness and grace.
You may not have gotten what you wanted, or what you think you needed, but you have God working for you and He knows what you need to make you more like Christ. He will always give you more Jesus. Don’t reject his purposes for you because it wasn’t a part of your plan. Participate, jump in, embrace it. Dance and weep.