The Christian and Sadness
Is It Ok For A Christian To Feel Sad?
I am sure that anyone reading this article is not new to the sadness which life sometimes brings us. All of us have experienced sadness in varying forms and degrees at some point of our lives.
We know of many passages in the Bible relating to the joy which Christians should have. For example, in James 1:2-3 it is written:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” In Romans 15:13, it is written: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Yet, when we face troubles and trials as part of daily life, it is not uncommon for many of us to feel down and out, discouraged and/or even depressed about our predicament.
If, during these times, you have doubted your faith in God or felt inadequate due to your so-called “weakness”, you are not alone. You may have asked yourself: “God’s word instructs us to count it all joy in trials, but yet I am finding so much difficulty in doing so. Does this make me unworthy in God’s eyes?”
Let us first remember that we are all human, and that all of us have emotions – this includes Christians. Faithful men of God, as told in the Bible, also struggled with sadness at some point. For instance, both Moses (Numbers 11:15) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:3–5), in their distress, cried out to God that they would rather die than continue living out their current reality. David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) recorded his misery multiple times – an example of which can be found in Psalms 56:8: “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Even our Lord Jesus Christ wept at the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35).
Rejoicing no matter what VS Rejoicing in the Lord
How do we then reconcile our emotions during trials, with passages like Philippians 4:4, which direct us to “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice”.
In my case, I used to understand this passage as an instruction to be happy no matter what my circumstances were. As a result, this made me feel disheartened about not living up to the joy of a Christian in troubling times.
Contrary to my previous understanding of Philippians 4:4, what this passage is trying to teach us is that we can still have joy when facing tribulation. “Rejoicing no matter what” and “Rejoicing in the Lord always” are 2 very different things.
The Christian’s source of joy is God Himself, and not circumstance. We are not called to be happy with poor health, with our poor financial status or with being retrenched from a job. Apostle Paul once said:
“…for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” (Phil 4:11).
He never said he was happy “with” these circumstances. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that we must enjoy unwanted circumstances. We are told, rather, to enjoy being in the Lord even in unwanted circumstances.
How do we “Rejoice in the Lord?”
The answer to this can be found a little later in Phil 4:6-7, where it is written:
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Even as Christians, we may sometimes forget that God is all powerful, and hence in control. This results in us taking matters into our own hands. Think about how many times you may have neglected to pray before making a tough decision, engaging in a difficult conversation, or when you are feeling frustrated or discouraged.
Henceforth, let us make a conscious effort to PKP - Pause, Kneel, and Pray to our Heavenly Father.
When is sadness wrong for a Christian?
It is not wrong for a Christian to be sad. But it is wrong when we allow our sorrow to overshadow our faith in God, causing us to give up on Him.
Many of us have no issue subscribing to the fact that God, in His omnipotence, created the world in a span of 6 days. Unbelievable right? And yet, we still DO believe in that. So, if He has the power to do this, then why not also continue trusting that He has the ability to help us through life’s daily challenges?
Psalms 43:5 exhorts us:
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”