Have you ever felt down-in-the-dumps, blue, or sad? We all have at some point. So, don’t feel bad when your emotions experience a little melancholy every once in a while!
One morning I noticed that too many of my friends were down-in-the-dumps. I realized they were all experiencing sadness as I was writing down their prayer requests in my prayer journal.
My prayer list that day included:
- A friend who was dealing with a child getting involved in a deviant and criminal lifestyle;
- Another friend was grieving over the loss of a close friend whose move was imminent; and
- My third friend was dealing with a psychiatric situation in her family.
The bottom denominator was that they were all sad – one maybe more than another, but all were feeling blue. So, I thought back to some moments in my life when I was down. I remember being so sad when no one asked me to my senior prom. I remember sitting on my bed around 7:30 p.m. that night thinking about all my friends who were out having a good time. [I was in high school at a time when unaccompanied students did not go to prom, so that wasn’t an option.] Then, when our daughter was not accepted into the college she dreamed about going to her entire life, I felt sad feeling sorry for her.
Most definitions of sadness call it an emotional feeling usually triggered by some kind of a loss, sorrow, disappointment, or helplessness. Many times it is an event that is out of our control that leads us to sadness we wish we could avoid.
Being down-in-the-dumps usually starts rapidly and lasts for a relatively short period of time, while depression is persistent and can last for a long time and can reoccur. While sadness is not the same as depression, it can lead into depression.
Vince Havner, a Southern Baptist preacher, wrote in his book Though I Walk through the Valley, about three different levels of experience that Christians go through. First there are the “mountaintop days”when everything is going well and the world looks bright. These experiences are temporary: they can’t go on forever. It is unrealistic to expect, as many people do, that we can spend life leaping from one mountain peak to another as if there were no plains or valleys in-between. Instead, most of life consists of “ordinary days” when we work at our usual tasks, neither elated or depressed. Then, third, there are “dark days” when we trudge heavily through confusion, doubt, despair, and discouragement. Sometimes these days string out into months or even years before we begin to experience a sense of relief or victory. When they persist, dark days are days of depression.¹
When sadness turns into depression, it is time to seek out help. Many Christian counselors or physicians are trained and insightful to help with your situation.
But, what about those days you just feel a little blue? During these times, I have had people say:
“Don’t feel sad.”
“Just trust God.”
“It’s not that big of a deal.”
And honestly, while those friends may be trying to help, those phrases just don’t work most of the time.
Let’s look at two Biblical examples to see how Jesus and Habakkuk dealt with their sadness.
- Habakkuk rejoiced when facing an international crisis.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no heard in the stalls, yet I will rejoice I the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19.
- Jesus wept when Mary and Martha were leading Jesus to see Lazarus’ dead body. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” they said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. John 11:32-35
On a practical basis, what are some things we can do when we are in a slump or are feeling sad?
- First, look to see if some sin is causing your sadness, and the Lord to forgive you for whatever it may be, i.e. an action, a thought;
- Cry. Let off some steam;
- Listen to some calming music;
- Read the Bible;
- Find a friend to talk to;
- Continue to eat and drink to keep your strength up;
- Pray and ask others to pray for you;
- Realize that with a little time, your blues will fade; and
- Be grateful for your down-in-the-dump days.
In my opinion, the last suggestion is the hardest to follow. But, per the Mayo Clinic, “Scientists are finding that gratitude . . . not only helps explain a high sense of well-being, but also can be fostered in simple ways to increase happiness and fulfillment.” Interesting how the Bible says the same thing. In Colossians 3:16, scripture says, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” Throughout the day, be thankful for little improvements in your situation, acknowledge that God knows what you are going through, and thank Him for His help in seeing you through this sad and difficult time.
Having a sad day or two does not mean you are not a good Christian. It is just life happening, “. . . but, joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:6.
And guess what? I did end up going to PROM! Not in high school, but as a chaperone at the high school where I worked and my date was the absolute best – It was my husband and best friend. And, my daughter was finally accepted into her dream school. In the end she decided to go elsewhere, which was a blessing, as she went to the college where she met her husband.
God always knows what He is doing even when we can’t see it. Trust Him always.
Bible Verses for when you feel sad:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1Thessalonians 5:16-18
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7
Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.Ecclesiastes 7:3
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh.Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4
Oh Lord, help me to remember that periods of sadness will come upon me at times and for various reasons. Give me assurance that you are with me throughout these days. Let me cry if I need to. Let me rejoice as I seek your guidance. Let me be joyful as I strive to look at everything from your perspective. Let me stay in your Word. And, may the Holy Spirit’s presence be upon me daily. Thank you Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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