Is There Ever a Bad Time to Sing a Cheerful Song?

Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured into baking soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart
(Proverbs 25:20).

To take away someone’s winter coat in –40°C weather would be cruel! To pour vinegar on an open wound would sting, effervescing like vinegar reacting with baking soda.


Reaction (Photo credit: Hoppo Bumpo (Liesl))

Likewise, when a person is grieving, mourning, or burdened, chances are they are in no mood to be chirpy—a seemingly cheerful song could rub them the wrong way.

Now let’s be clear, singing is a wonderful and cathartic form of expression. In this proverb, “singing songs” is a metaphor for insensitive behavior, malarkey, frivolousness, inappropriate jokes, or ignorant comments. Making light of someone’s grieving process is as condescending, irritating, and harmful as taking away a person’s coat in winter.

People need space to grieve their own way. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just be with them: weep when they weep, laugh when they laugh, or sit with them in silence. The comfort comes not in “singing songs,” but in showing deep compassion and empathy.

I’m reminded of a profound and inspiring Bible verse:

Jesus wept (John 11:35).

Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, his friend, the one he loved. Our love, mercy, and compassion for family, friends, and neighbors should motivate all our actions. Trying to push a selfish agenda on a heavy heart is like vinegar poured into baking soda.

Copyright © 2012 Uwana.


6 thoughts on “Is There Ever a Bad Time to Sing a Cheerful Song?

  1. Each person grieves differently. I took Stephen Ministry and they had us study fifty hours worth of training. Some want to sing loud and happy, some want to pretend they are not grieving, some want to go to the wailing wall. All are perfectly normal and healthy.


      • It is a program started with the idea of Stephen in the bible. He reached out to help the hurting. They require 50 hours of training and then assign you to a care receiver. You meet with them once a week and they talk and you listen and hold hands. You don’t give advice and you don’t judge. You are just there for them and you pray with them if they would like. You can look it up, it is a pretty cool program.


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