As believers, we know that the Church is not meant to be a showcase for perfect people, but rather a safe haven for the broken. When asked how we are, we unfortunately still have a hard time being open with our struggles. We choose to hide our feelings, put on a phony smile and pretend that everything’s fine.
I’ve been a little down the last couple of days. A lot of small things have been contributing to my general sense of sadness, but when I finally summon up the strength to admit it to anyone, I feel the need to apologize again and again for feeling the way I do.
I automatically assume that I’m being judged because I’m not filled with joy and peace at all times and assume that other believers will see my sadness as a moral failing.
I can remember telling a friend that was going through a difficult time a few years ago that she should just luxuriate in her sadness for a little while. To enjoy being sad, play sad music, watch sad movies and cry it all out until she gets it out of her system. Today, I would advise her differently.
Hiding our sorrow is not something that will help us heal spiritually. However, I’ve been realizing that wallowing in our sadness is not at all delightful and can sometimes open up doors for sin to enter our lives.
As Christians, we don’t have to wallow in our sadness; we’ve been empowered with an authoritative weapon in our fight against sadness: The Bible. We are able to push back against sadness by reminding ourselves of the truths in the Word of God.
Why are you downcast, oh my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Put your hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God. | Psalm 42:11
When I am struggling to find peace and joy in my life, I get alone with God and I pour out all of my heart to Him. I write down my prayers and list out the thoughts that I am fighting and then read over them. There they are. I pull out my Bible and start writing down truths from passages that contain God’s promises next to my doubts and fears. It helps me remember that I am currently involved in a spiritual battle and that the thoughts that are defeating me are strategically positioned by the Enemy to make me ineffective in my purpose. No matter how I feel, what the Word of God says is true. In those moments, I preach that fact over and over again to myself. This is something that helps me tremendously.
Usually after I’ve spent time with the Lord and poured my heart out, I realize that I am too focused on myself and not enough on others. There is joy found in self-forgetting – in stepping away from ourselves and focusing on ministering to the needs of others. We have not been saved by serving, but we have been saved to serve. This is a part of every believer’s purpose, and when we are involved in service, we are able to stop obsessing over ourselves and see the needs of those around us.
Another thing that helps me cope with sadness is spending time with friends. It doesn’t have to be time spent analyzing the depths of your depression, but sharing your burden and being encouraged by others can immensely contribute to a renewed spirit. Being around friends that can make you laugh is uplifting and needed on a regular basis.
Everyone goes through times of sadness and discouragement in their lives. You are not alone! Wait for the Lord to do what only HE can do – bring you joy. Applying scriptural truths to your life, ministering to others and spending time with others will help you. If you’re going through a hard time, remember that God knows exactly what you’re dealing with and how long you’ve been where you are. You aren’t forgotten, you are loved and the Lord will teach you so much through this process – don’t give up!
The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming (Romans 8:18).