By Chris WittsWednesday 18 Apr 2018Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
Everyone feels sad at times. Sad feelings can be mild, intense or in-between. How sad you feel can depend on the situation that’s causing the sadness and how you’re coping with it.
Sadness is a natural human emotion. Like other emotions, sad feelings come and go. Some sad feelings last only a moment, some last longer. When sad feelings ease away, a happier mood can take their place. Sadness is a part of being human, a natural reaction to painful circumstances. All of us will experience sadness at some point in our lives.
Maybe that’s how you’re feeling now, and you may not even know why you feel that way. It’s not helped either when others say Don’t feel so sad, as if by some magic solution your sadness will go away. Many of us don’t like being around sad people, probably because it reminds us of our times of being down.
The word ‘downcast’ means dejected, depressed, sad, down, disappointed, discouraged, and unhappy. I’m sure you have felt like that sometime recently.
What Makes Us Sad?
Things don’t always go the way we plan or don’t work out, and our feelings get hurt. Someone lets you down or hurts your feelings. So you feel sad. Maybe something doesn’t work out the way you had hoped. So a good question to ask, What makes us sad? It can be for a multitude of reasons.
The struggle to meet our financial commitments or a sense of inner guilt that weighs us down. Some are sad because of poor personal relationships. I know others carry sadness around with them because they suffer, perhaps physically or emotionally, and this makes them sad. And many are sad because they feel unworthy—as if God doesn’t accept them. But I like what Rick Warren once said: ”God is real no matter how you feel”.
Our faith in God is more accurate than how we feel because feelings come and go. The psalmist in Psalm 42:11 asked God these questions,
Why am I so sad?
Why am I restless?
I trust you!
And I will praise you again
because you help me,
and you are my God.
The NIV says, “Why are you so downcast, O my soul?” (Psalm 42:5)
The anonymous writer of Psalm 42 appears to have been a highly committed and talented believer, probably a temple singer or musician. He may have been exiled from Jerusalem (perhaps to Babylon?) and can no longer take part in the communal worship as he did before (Psalm 42:4). He carries within him a deep sense of disappointment in God for allowing Jerusalem to fall to its enemies, and the taunts that God has deserted Israel exacerbates his feelings of deep sadness. (Psalm 42:3,10). And this sadness engulfs him, and he constantly weeps (42:3). It seems as if God is to blame for his misfortune (42:7); eventually, his health begins to suffer (42:10). Have a read of this remarkable Psalm 42.
It is easy to allow self-pity to overwhelm us and sometimes we have to take ourselves in hand and speak faith to our troubled souls. Martin Lloyd-Jones used to say: “We must talk to ourselves, instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us. Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”
Faith Needs To Be Exercised
Faith has to be exercised. Did you know Christianity is about turning sadness into gladness? If our century is marked with despair, depression and hopelessness, so also was the first century. There was misery, and so many were pessimistic; the world was in dark despair until Jesus was born. The angels said, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come”. He brought a note of gladness and hope into the lives of people and still does today. Few people realise what a difference Christianity made to the early world.
Jesus Himself knew what it was like to feel anguish and great sorrow. He was in the garden of Gethsemane, and he was greatly distressed. The Amplified Bible gathers together all the emotions in a powerful way recorded in Matthew 26:37-38: “He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed. Then he said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved so that I am almost dying of sorrow”.
But he rose from the dead in glorious victory, and his followers saw him and were filled with joy and hope. Today he understands the reasons for our sadness and says to us Your hearts will be filled with gladness, the kind of gladness that no-one can take away from you.