"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
Have you ever had a beloved pet pass away? Or gone through a difficult break up? Or experienced a traumatic event? Was there a time when your emotions plunged you into a deep sorrow? It is completely human to feel sadness after these kinds of events (Psalm 90:10). We've probably all walked through extended periods of sadness, and it is a difficult season of life to get through.
Feelings of sadness are not sinful. David often felt abandoned by God in his sorrow (Psalm 13). Jesus felt sadness at the death of His friend Lazarus—and He even knew He was going to bring Lazarus back from the dead! (See John 11.) Jesus Himself was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). His life was filled with sorrows no one can truly comprehend.
Emotions are tools that help us relate to and interpret our world. A quick perusal of Psalms shows that God's people feel all sorts of emotions! Emotions are a normal part of being human, but they can cause us some problems if we aren't careful. They can become dangerous if it leads to depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts.
If you find yourself walking through a season of sadness, here are some ideas that may help you get through it.
If you recognize that your feelings of sadness are causing changes in your sleep pattern (too much or too little sleep), affecting your appetite, producing pervasive feelings of despair or hopelessness, or you are having thoughts of death or suicide, then you are experiencing more than just sadness. Those can be symptoms of depression. Talk to a trusted adult who can help you access help for addressing and managing what might be clinical depression.
Regardless of whether you are clinically depressed, seek a community of believers who will walk with you. Friends, especially other believers, can be a tremendous support when we feel down. Sometimes we get mired in sadness, and we just need a hand to climb out of the pit. That's OK! Some of us might find we have more serious mental health concerns, and that's OK too. Many of us have been there.
Jesus came so that we can "have life and have it abundantly," and He is the only one who can give us abundant life (John 10:10). God is the truest friend we will ever have and will always be wherever you are. Growing in your knowledge and love of God through Bible reading is a great way to strengthen your relationship with Him. This relationship will draw you close to the One who is our Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3-6).
Even when you don't feel like it, make sure you're staying in the Word. Whether it's with a physical Bible or a Bible app, set up a daily routine to read the Bible. Try setting an alarm in your phone and have a plan for what you're going to read.
Consider reading through the Psalms. This might seem strange because many of the Psalms talk about real despair, sadness, depression, regret, and hurt—but I am personally encouraged to know that I'm not the only one to feel this way! The psalmists almost always find their way back to hope and faith in God. Psalm 42, Psalm 73, Psalm 51, and Psalm 34 are good places to start.
Prayer is another thing we can do to maintain a connection through communication with God. Writing out my prayers is the surest way for me to get to the heart of what I'm feeling or what I fear. I also like to go back through my written prayers to remind myself that God answered every single one of them—maybe not when or how I thought or I wanted, but in His perfect way and perfect timing. "The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry" (Psalm 34:15).
Feelings can influence our thoughts, which can influence our actions, sometimes leading us to dangerous places or sinful pursuits. Often, we believe that we have no control over our thoughts or emotions. They just seem to come at us! But the Bible says something different:
"On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." —2 Corinthians 10:4b-5
Paul states that we can train ourselves to recognize thoughts like, "God never answers my prayers," and feelings (like worthlessness) that aren't true or are contrary to God's Word and stop them in their tracks. We can instead recognize, "God does hear me when I pray. Sometimes He doesn't answer the way I want, but I can trust that He always has my best interest at heart because He loves me." We can challenge our thoughts and test them against what we know of God's nature from reading His Word (Psalm 66:19).
When we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to the Word of God, we are constantly reminded of God's love and provision for us, which ends up increasing our hope and faith. Pretty cool if you ask me!
We can maintain strong faith in God and hold even more tightly to Him when we undergo tough times. Feeling sad or depressed is not a sin, but we are accountable for our response to the affliction, including seeking professional help when that might be needed.
While walking through this season of sadness, dive deep with God as He has extended this invitation to YOU to focus on your relationship with Him. This season of sadness can be a precious one of tremendous growth in your faith. Be encouraged that God does not waste any opportunity to build us up for the plans and purpose He has for our lives. He loves and cares for you so much.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you…And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." —1 Peter 5:6-10
Feelings of sadness are not sinful. Emotions are tools that help us relate to and interpret our world. Stay connected to God during periods of sorrow by reading His Word, praying, and surrounding yourself with positive influences. Extended periods of sadness may be a sign of depression, and seeking assistance from trusted friends, family, or even a counselor may help lead you through this hard time.
Rhonda is an author, wife, mother, and mentor. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in English and Religious studies. She loves studying God’s Word for truth and wisdom and uses it as a compass and roadmap for her own spiritual journey. Rhonda believes in sharing the Good News and the hope found in Biblical truths with others. She uses her writing and mentoring opportunities (often with a pinch of humor) to do just that.