Is It OK Not To Feel Happy All the Time?

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[dropcap]P[/dropcap]eople always think I’m happy. Since I was very little, I’ve always been seen as the happy, bouncy one. The one that’s never ruffled. The one for whom everything is fine and nothing seems to bother them.

That’s not the case at all. I have always struggled with negative emotions, often to the point where I have not known how to express them. It has led me to try and cover up my feelings of sadness by acting happy, even when I’m not.

These emotions and thoughts hit a new low when I suffered from severe depression. I went through a pretty traumatic time, and did in fact consider suicide. I didn’t go through with it, and the Lord was gracious to me and gave me good friends to help me through. He gave me healing, but it took a long period of time, patience and a lot of prayer (both from myself and other people).

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I’m not saying this to elicit sympathy, but because this is a part of my story. People in the Bible went through really low times, too. Even people who knew God and trusted Him like David and Job went through very dark days. These people are real and their reactions are often very realistic. We can be real about these things too.

The Bible talks a lot about rejoicing. We are commanded to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’ and not to worry about anything, but to pray about everything (Philippians 4). That raises the question, ‘Is it ok for a Christian not to be happy all the time?’

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I guess the answer lies in that last part of that scripture: we are called to rejoice ‘in the Lord.’ We’re not made to be on cloud nine all the time. Nobody wants a friend who is unable to face hard times with an element of reality and grounded prospective. Jesus offers life in its fullness, and on this earth that includes a whole range of emotions.

Jesus felt pain and sorrow. Of course He did. He became human. When his friend died He wept. When His people rejected Him he felt sad. He still knew what it was that God had called Him to, and He still obeyed, even to the point of death on the cross. Through His pain and suffering, He opened up a way for our eternal wellbeing. ‘By His stripes we are healed.’ (Isaiah 53)

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In some ways, I still struggle emotionally. There are days when I don’t want to do much, and it’s a battle to keep pushing through. That doesn’t mean that I can’t rejoice in the Lord in those moments.

My feelings of low emotion almost always come after I’ve been relying on myself and not trusting in God. Isaiah 60 says that ‘those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.’ It is important to be grateful, even in the hard times. Recognising when we are trusting in ourselves and not in God is a really important skill to develop. Sometimes what is happening on the inside doesn’t always match what is happening in the outside. Other people can’t see your hurt. They don’t know your pain, but God does.

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So, is it ok not to feel happy all the time? Yes, because Jesus didn’t. He suffered in the most terrible ways imaginable. We have a great High Priest Who ‘for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.’ (Hebrews 12) He went through the most awful experiences that a human being could, and worse. His example is one of perseverance, obedience and hope, in spite of difficulty.

Sure, our emotions may go up and down. We can take that to Him. Of course we’re going to go through hard times in this life, but He is more than capable of helping us through it. The joy of the Lord is our strength, and by casting our cares on Jesus, who cares for us (Philippians 4), we can be certain of our hope, trusting in Him and persevering through the trials. When we are in that place where all tears are washed away and there will be no more sorrow, we’ll be glad we did.

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