You don’t have to wallow in sadness.
Ben Stuart says this realization was one of the greatest gifts God gave him in his fight against sadness. He learned from the Psalms that we could push back against sad feelings with the truths of God’s word. We can fight back for joy in God.
In this three minute video, Ben talks about three weapons in the fight against sadness and encourages us to hang in there.
So what would I say to the young person who wants to pursue joy in God but finds himself or herself to be sad and is struggling with how to feel happy and joyful?
Well, I know for me, that was an ongoing struggle. I think I felt it more deeply as a young man. I think one of the great gifts God gave me was the realization that I don’t have to wallow in sadness. Sometimes I thought it was my burden to carry and I just had to carry it. And the psalms helped me see that’s not the case. David fought against it. Psalm 42, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Hope in God.” And I realized, Oh, you can push back against sad feelings. You can push against them with the truth of God’s word. That’s what David did. He said “I will remember the goodness of God.”
For me, when I don’t desire God, when I am struggling with joy, I have a tool kit of different things I try. For me, the first thing is that I’m very honest with the Lord in my time with him. I write out my thoughts to get them out of my head so they quit spinning around. I get them on a page. I write down all my emotions in one color, sort of like me right or wrong, there they are. Then I write out the eternal truths of God in a darker color and I ask that he let my emotions bend around his truths. That helps me.
There are other times when I just need to go hang with some friends that make me laugh. It doesn’t all have to be probing the depths of your sadness. Sometimes, for me, being around buddies that would make me laugh was really what I needed, people that could help me get out of my shell.
Sometimes it was just getting in the work, doing the work of ministry. That really helped me. William Wilberforce called it the joy of self-forgetting, to just step out of myself for a moment.
And so I found I try to do little things that work. I find the word of God, I find good friends, I find doing the work of God — I just tried different things while I’ll wait for the Lord to do what only he can do, to bring joy. But he uses means, so I keep pursuing different healthy means until joy is released. And I found that as I do that, there is always something God always teaches me in the process if I don’t give up. So I’d encourage you, whoever you are, wherever you are, don’t give up. It’s a fight worth making.
More resources on the fight for joy: