“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” -1 Peter 5:7
Often times as Christians we feel pressured to always exhibit a happy demeanor. A sad Christian is a failing Christian. Or so we’re led to believe. As Christians we celebrate verses of Scripture that tell us to rejoice in Him. We know that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). We know that the “joy of the Lord” is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and that a “merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). But what happens when that merry heart is not so easy to find? What do we do as Christians when sadness creeps in?
Before I became a Christian I struggled with depression. There were periods in my life where I found it challenging to get out of bed in the morning or to make it through a daily routine. I was put on and taken off of several different anti-depressants over the years. I was plagued by suicidal thoughts. I self-injured on a number of occasions. I tried to self-medicate with substances. Meeting Christ changed all of that for me. When I met Him, I learned what it was to have joy unspeakable! I was set free from debilitating depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and consuming thoughts of suicide. Praise the Lord!!
But sometimes, I still fall into sadness. It’s nothing like the debilitating depression I had before knowing Him, but I have a tendency not to share this with people because I feel guilty about it. I feel since the Lord has freed me from so much I don’t have a right to feel sad. Ever. I feel selfish when feelings of sadness come on. Sometimes I let the enemy condemn me for the feelings I have. Or I beat myself up using Scriptures that admonish me to be content with what I have or by reminding myself of people who have many more trials than I do. The trouble is that because I have such negative feelings about sadness, I have a tendency to not deal with them. I try to sweep them under the rug and forget about them. The problem is that in not dealing with these feelings they actually gain greater control. The best way to move beyond sadness is to acknowledge it and then give it to God.
I’ve come to realize that sadness is a part of life. It’s natural to feel sad when we lose a loved one, go through a break-up, see someone hurting, or watch a dear friend move away. The Lord Himself knew what it was like to experience sadness. He wept in front of Lazarus’ tomb. In the book of Isaiah, the Bible describes the coming Lord as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). The Lord knows what it is to be sad.
David knew what it was to be sad too. He said, “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress. My eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief” (Psalm 31:9-10). In another place in the Bible, David is recorded as saying, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? (Psalm 42:5). There are many recorded examples of sadness in the Bible. Jeremiah was referred to as the “weeping profit”. Nehemiah was so sad that the king himself asked him what was wrong. Job knew grief, as did Solomon. Isaiah was so depressed he prayed to die!
If you are reading this and your countenance is down, know that you are not alone! You are in good company. You don’t have to pretend to be happy if you aren’t. It doesn’t make you less of a Christian, it simply makes you human. I have found that although I still fall into sadness at times that it doesn’t have to last long if I am consistent about handing it over to God.
You don’t have to feel anxious or ashamed of your emotions, but you do need to deal with them. If sadness has crept in on you the first thing you need to do is to acknowledge it. Then you need to search your heart to see if there is any chance the sadness is connected to sin present in your life. If it is, repent and ask God to help keep you from falling into that sin in the future. Once we take care of sin, there are a couple of very helpful things we can do to move beyond sadness. Below are a few of the things I have found helpful in my own walk with God.
In the natural:
- Exercise – I have found nothing better than exercise for chasing away the blues.
- Healthy Eating – Eating clean, healthy food the way God intended it.
- Sleep – Adequate sleep is invaluable to our emotional well-being.
In the spiritual:
- Thanksgiving – Having a heart of gratitude will do wonders for moving beyond sadness. When we focus on all the things we have to be thankful for, we don’t have time to focus on the things that bring us down!
- Giving – Giving of our time and resources to those less fortunate than ourselves takes the focus off of our circumstances and on to others.
- Worship – Again, this gets the focus off of us, and on to Him! He is our everything. He deserves our worship in the good times and in the sad times. The more we worship Him, the more He envelops us in His presence. It’s really hard to stay sad when you are in the presence of Almighty God!
If you’ve tried all that and it seems that none of it is working, don’t despair. Keep giving it to God (1 Peter 5:7) and keep worshiping Him. Allow Him to work in you and through you. Remind yourself that even the mighty men of God in the Bible experienced sadness, loneliness, and depression. Never give up on God; He will never give up on you.
In His Love,