It is OK for Christians to not be happy all the time

It is OK for Christians to not be happy all the time

Many of the songs we sing in church are happy songs. We sing of Jesus being Joy to the World, of the wonder of Amazing Grace, and of how great our God is. And yes, of course, these are great things to sing about! But if that is all that we sing, we might be sending the wrong message to those in the congregation. We might be inadvertently saying that Christians should be happy all the time.

I do pray that most Christians are generally happy people. Of all people, we do know what it means to be saved, we know the Creator and Saviour who loves us, and we have a glorious hope. All of that is true. But we are sinners in a fallen world. We have tragedies happen in our lives. We suffer pain. We can have mental illnesses including depression. There will be times that we don’t feel happy, and that is not a sin.

It is OK to not be happy all the time. Elijah in 1 Kings 19 is one of a large number of examples in the Bible. He had done incredible things in God’s name, including calling fire from heaven and raising the dead. Yet he was on the run, and the people of Israel still rejected the true God. He felt his ministry was a failure. Even allowing for a negative frame of mind, and possible clinical depression, his concerns are correct. His exceptional ministry has not borne the fruit he wanted. And he goes into the middle of the desert and asks God to kill him.

We should note that God doesn’t do what Elijah asked him to. Our death is not the answer it might seem, even on our darkest days; God had more for Elijah to do. If you’re feeling very low right now, don’t give in to the temptation to end things; there is always hope even when it doesn’t feel that way. Talk to someone and soon.

God doesn’t condemn Elijah for his request. He understands. He provides food for Elijah. He speaks to him. He comforts him by reminding him that he has a plan for the world and all is not lost. And he tells Elijah that he is not alone as he feels he is.

Don’t pretend to be happy all the time. Elijah is not the only one who struggled with life. Job was miserable after what happened to him. Many of the psalms are laments from people who are in dark places and cry out to their god. Hagar thought she would die in the desert and God sustained her. It is not wrong to feel down.

In 1 Kings 19, the angel says something important to Elijah in his depressed state. Food is provided, and the angel says in v7b, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” The time had come that things were too much even for the great prophet Elijah. Remember that when you feel overwhelmed. Things might become too much for you, but they are never too much for God. God has a plan and carries it out even when we cannot do any more. God sustains a remnant of faithful people even when we feel like we are all alone.

Life is sometimes hard. We will sometimes feel like it is all too much. On those days, come to God through Jesus. Pray and tell him how you feel; there is a strong precedent for this in 1 Kings 19 and in the Psalms. Listen to his word and find the encouragement that Jesus is still King. Don’t give up. God can do what we cannot. That is great news indeed.