Help! I'm Always Sad

Sadness That Never Leaves

If Christians are people of hope, is it okay if you’re always sad? Dr. David Powlison, counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), talks about the appropriateness of being sad given the state of our world and offers a word of encouragement to all who suffer from mild depression.

David Powlison has been doing biblical counseling for over 30 years and has written numerous articles on counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, Power Encounters, and The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context. 

Didn’t you find David’s words comforting? Not only did he say it’s okay to be sad—he actually encouraged sadness as a way to reflect Christ and grieve the brokenness of the world.  

Isaiah 53:3-4 (ESV)

3 He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Isaiah 53:3–4 describes Christ in His sorrow and suffering. As David said, He looked life in the eye and saw all kinds of brokenness. What kind of brokenness do you see in the world around you?
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The person who asked about sadness in the video they felt like everyone else around them was happy. You've probably felt that way at some time, too. Share some things that make you think everyone else has their life together, and you're the only one who's often sad.
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David said that if someone is always happy there’s a problem—a superficial veneer that isn’t reality.

When it comes to accurately perceiving themselves, their situation, and other people in the world today, David described three types of people from a study: 

  • overly optimistic people who see the world through rose-colored glasses
  • profoundly depressed people who see the world through blue-colored glasses
  • people who are mildly depressed and actually see the world most accurately 

Which of these three types of people do you think you most resemble? Why do you say that?
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While overly optimistic and overly pessimistic people generally are not able to accurately perceive themselves, their situation, and other people, those who mildly depressed actually can. These people aren’t necessarily more thoughtful—they are simply sensitized to the ways of the world and respond in realistic sadness.  

David shared the story of a mother who was cruel to her child in public. The mother called her child names and was very hostile, and it made David sad. Share a time when you saw or reflected on the brokenness of the world, and it made you sad.
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Why do you think God would understand your sadness in that particular case?
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When you think about your own personal sadness, why do you believe God sympathizes with your pain?
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The person who wrote into CCEF wondered if they should look more for the grace of God in the world around them. They thought this might make them happier, but David said God’s grace isn’t about mere happiness. In Christ there is both unbreakable hope and sadness. We can have joy and confidence in life because of who Christ is and what He’s done, but that doesn’t mean the sorrows of today go away. In grace, there is balance.  

In general, how do you see and experience the grace of God in the midst of sadness in life? How does that grace change your outlook?
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Not only is it normal to be sad about how things are going in the world today—it’s actually good to be sad about it. Life is not as it’s meant to be. Jesus wasn’t overly happy about the way things were in life, and you shouldn’t be either. As you think about the things that make you sad in this world, try to resist the urge to wallow in your sadness and also the urge to break out of it. Take some time to rest, pray, and seek God’s consolation and hope.  

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