What can joyless & unhappy Christians do to feel better?

I am glad that you called and were willing to meet with me.  I know it must be hard to reach out for help when you are struggling with personal matters.  I want you to know that I have struggled with similar things and understand what you are going through.  The thing that is great is that even if I didn’t understand I don’t need to.  I have the Holy Spirit working through me and He understands and He can guide us as we seek answers to determine why you are so down and so sad. 
God’s Word has the power to pierce hearts and change lives so we will be relying on that for the basis of our time together.  God expects us to take action.  To put off old behaviors and put on new.  There are things that we can do coupled with Scripture that can help us get back to living a joyful life.  It won’t be easy.  It will be a process, but God works mightily through the processes of our lives to bring about change that is good for us and His glory.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
I wish the goal of life was to help you solve all your problems and live a carefree life.
I wish the goal was to get everything you wanted and be happy.
I wish that we could orchestrate your life so that all your relationships were healthy, all your bills were paid, the car never broke, your children always obeyed, and your husband loved you unconditionally, BUT we cannot.
We will suffer.  So the question becomes how can I suffer rightly.  How can I continue to function, love and obey God, and have some ounce of sanity through the mess of life?

Let’s start.

Perhaps the best place to start is looking at the source of our joy.  This takes time and honesty, but if you can begin to see where your source of joy comes from then we can identify what throws you into hopelessness, sadness, depression, and confusion.
When was the last time you felt great about life?
What SPECIFICALLY was going on?  Think it through and write it down if it helps you look at the situation.
Here is an example.  For the past two weeks I have fought my out of control emotions, depression, sadness, and grief.  One afternoon this week I felt hopeful about life again, my future, and felt in control of my emotions.  What happened?
1.  Two weeks ago I switched roles at work.  They moved me to a new desk and all my familiar duties were stripped from me.
2.  That weekend we had a lot going on with our kids and I began to become overly anxious, worried, sad, and depressed.
3.  At work the next week I was bored because I had little work to do.  It will take some time for my job to develop and in the mean time I had little to occupy my mind and time for a ten hour day.
4.  Another weekend came and I was filled with more anxiety, stress, worry, anger, depression, grief, and sadness.
5.  Monday was betterWhy?
  • One of the kids landed safely.
  • Someone at work asked if I wanted to sign up for a class I always wanted to take.
  • I was asked to be a part of some projects.
  • My schedule got busier.
  • Some of the other things with the other kids worked out.
  • The car repair thing started working out.
Write something out like this for yourself.  Begin to observe.  What caused me to dive off the emotional deep end?  Something changed and that change was similar to another one I had a few years ago.  I panicked.  Because I had no control over that situation I reacted by becoming down and sad.  Once my emotions were out of whack and other things started to happen then the ball just rolled faster and got bigger as it went along.
What made me feel better?  When things started working out, I could see it was going to be alright, and things started going my way. 

The problem.

The problem with all of that is that more problems are coming my way.  At any moment I could receive a text that alters a relationship, I could be notified of a death, lose my job, my car could break down again, my husband could leave me, the house could burn, an illness may be growing, and a long list of other problems that we have all experienced.
The problem is that as a Christian my source of joy should be God.  God doesn’t change and when my source of joy is wrapped up in Him my joy will not falter.  In reality this is easier sad then done, but it’s the goal.  When things started going my way this week I noticed that my joy returned.  It was a sign that I still wasn’t right with God.  If I don’t get right then my mood and attitude will change as soon as the wind blows again.
Perhaps one of greatest detriments to Christians is a successful and happy life.  It is at those times that we convince ourselves that we are alright because everything is going well and we are checking off the right Spiritual boxes.  Once a life changing trial enters the picture our relationship with God is revealed.  The lack of Bible reading becomes apparent and the void from a prayer less life opens up and sucks us in.

The solution

For now let’s identify what is truly making us happy.  It’s okay to be happy about the great things in life, but we don’t want them to replace having joy in God.  Begin to really pray that God would develop a hunger for Him over the things of this world.  Begin to observe your motives for doing things.  Learn about what makes you tick and be honest with yourself about how much you truly yearn for God.
Write down Philippians 3:8 and engrain the concept into your mind.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
For the next week can you commit to five minutes in the Word everyday?
Can you commit to praying at home for five minutes in a location where you will not be interrupted and can enjoy silence?  (yeah, no phone)
Can you write down when you notice your mood swing and what is happening when it changes?
Next week we will review this and see how things are going and see what patterns emerge.
Thank you for coming.  I pray that God helps us grow to be more like His Son, to love and serve others, and learn how to be joyous in all situations.
Marcy Pedersen

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