Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I’ve met some people who are truly sad. You see it in their expression and hear it in their voice. They have lost their drive and enjoyment in life, and can’t seem to move forward.
It’s almost like a dark cloud hanging over their head, and they can’t escape the depression, acute sadness, and sorrow. This is never an easy or simple matter to talk about. Depression, a sense of hopelessness and sadness—these are complex matters.
Maybe you know from personal experience what I mean. It’s good to understand some obvious things that can get people down, such as experiencing grief or loss of a loved one, caring for someone who is unwell, being sick or having a medical condition or chronic illness. It may help to:
- Talk to someone you trust, such as a friend or a family member. They might have some insights that you can’t identify yourself, which might help you figure out what’s causing your sadness.
- Write down your feelings. The causes of your sadness may become more obvious if you write about what’s happening in your life and how you feel about it.
- Face things head on. Try not to stay in bed all day avoiding things. Sadness can weigh you down. From childhood we are taught to put on a happy face, and smile—but don’t be sad. That would never do. After all, people say, joy is everything—sadness equates to failure.
We are complex people with a complex brain, and professionals who help spend many years studying the topics. We may struggle with these sad feelings, and pray to God that he would take them away. But God doesn’t appear to answer our prayer. It’s not pleasant to walk the sadness path day after day. If God loves us and we love him, why is he allowing this sadness to continue? Why doesn’t he just take the sadness away?
Unfinished grieving can prolong our sadness
Can I suggest that maybe—just maybe—you are still grieving over something that happened in your life, and have not dealt with it properly? It may be possible. Grieving is a natural response that God created in our hearts to have when we have lost something meaningful to us. And it can be a much loved dog or cat—or a person we love who died. If we are not careful, we can rush through the stage of grief too quickly—not giving ourselves enough time to grieve properly.
Ironically, if we try to move on without properly grieving our loss, we will actually prolong our season of sadness. And it hangs around far too long—just because we didn’t take the time to process our feelings of loss and sadness. It’s a bit like ignoring a cut on your body. If you act like that cut is not there, you will make it harder for that wound to form a scab and then heal.
God has given us the emotion of joy, of anger, of fear—and yes, of sadness.
Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by
Likewise, when your heart is wounded, you need a season of grieving so you can give yourself the extra care, tenderness, and time that you need to heal with God. He has promised to heal the brokenhearted. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:4 there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” It’s called the seasons of life. And we should not ignore each season—even the season of grief and sadness.
God has created us as emotional beings. God has given us the emotion of joy, of anger, of fear—and yes, of sadness. The writer in Ecclesiastes reminds us there is a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to grieve and a time to dance. The wisdom writer counsels us to stop straining against the limits of life. And find the real joy and beauty that exists in the daily living of life with all its ups and downs. It’s a lesson we do well to learn.
Sadness can help us empathise with others
It’s worth noting that sadness gives us the ability to enter into the suffering of others. Remember what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” It is in mourning, in a deep sadness for the loss of some person or happiness, that we can find comfort. We are blessed that God will comfort us in our faithfulness—this we hold onto with certain hope.
Our sadness can widen our hearts.
But it’s also in our mourning and acknowledgement of our sadness that we can better empathise with others—that we can be more fully present to others in their sadness and comfort them with love. If we allow it, our sadness can widen our hearts—and help us appreciate what others are going through.
Sadness reminds us this world is not our home. In a fallen world, as Christians, we accept that lasting joy will not come in this life. We can and often do experience great joys, pleasures and happiness, yet even these are shadowed with sadness and loss as we age and accept that things will never be quite the same. Sadness is truly one of the greatest gifts we are ever given by God, and we should be thankful.
In our sadness, we can experience the joy of knowing God’s unending mercy and love for us.