The 2015 Pixar film Inside Out is about the emotions inside an outgoing 11-year old girl named Riley. The movie is fresh and original, cFleverly portraying each of Riley’s emotions as its own character—Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and last—but not least—Sadness.
For the most part, Joy politely runs the show in Riley’s head. This emotion keeps it fun and light. It occasionally lets Anger, Fear, and Disgust play token roles, but constantly strives to keep Sadness out of the picture. And it’s that suppression of sad feelings that almost causes Riley to completely shut down—inside and out.
Joy’s insistence upon a perpetual state of happiness begins to collapse when Riley is uprooted from her hometown. Soon she experiences big-time struggles adjusting to her new life. Before Riley completely withdraws, however, Joy realizes that letting Sadness into Riley’s emotional state could actually help her.
Instead of a good time, Riley needed permission to have a good cry. Sharing how much she missed her former home allowed her parents to comfort and cheer her.
The overall message of Inside Out taps into one of the secrets to true joy stressed by Jesus Himself. Jesus taught, “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). In a world that’s not always joyful, Jesus reminds us that we need to lean into our sadness in order to feel the true comfort and, well, joy of God’s blessing.
The Scriptures call us to weep at the reality of our broken world and the pain it can bring. Yet ours isn’t a hopeless lament. As the psalmist declared, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
In Jesus, sadness isn’t joy’s rival—it’s an ally.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Corinthians 15:42-58
Read Hebrews 12:2 and consider how joy and pain mingled in Jesus’ life.
Is there sadness in your life you need to embrace? How does the joy found in Jesus affect you when you face adversity?