Summary: Even the emotion of sadness is given to us by God for our good. But what should we do when sadness turns into despondency and depression? These three biblical examples show us what to do.
A. I came across this humorous list of truths children learn – let me share a few with you.
1. Truth #1: No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptize cats.
2. Truth #2: You can’t trust dogs to watch your food.
3. Truth #3: You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
4. Truth #4: The best place to be when you are sad is in Grandma’s lap.
B. Today, as we continue our sermon series on emotions called “Embracing and Employing our Emotions,” I want to talk about feelings of sadness and depression.
1. During this series, I have been driving home the point that God has created us with the ability to feel emotions in order that our lives might be enriched.
2. As we have seen, that is true for the emotions of guilt, fear, and anger, and today I want us to understand that it is also true of sadness.
3. God has created us with the ability to feel sadness for good reasons.
C. But as with most painful emotions, we have a natural tendency to want to avoid it.
1. From a very young age, we try to avoid sad feelings.
2. As adults, we’re quick to shush wailing babies or offhandedly say to sobbing children, “Don’t be sad. Cheer up. You’re fine. Stop crying.”
3. Unintentionally, we can pass on the message that sadness is bad and that it should be avoided.
D. But, how is sadness a good emotion and why should we let ourselves feel sad?
1. I like the way a counselor explained it: In its most simple form, we have two “brains”: The Emotional Mind and The Thinking Brain. The Thinking Brain processes our life as a series of events whereas the Emotional Mind focuses on how we feel about what has happened. Every significant event needs to be processed by the Thinking Brain as well as the Emotional Mind. Feeling sad, angry, fearful, and joyful are essential features of our Emotional Mind, and they all have an important role to play when we emotionally process life’s events. (Creating Change)
2. So, on the most basic level, sadness’s function is twofold: (1) To let us know that we need to grieve and (2) to cause us to seek out those who love and support us.
3. Like with the other emotions we have been discussing, I want to encourage us to identify our feelings and allow ourselves to feel them – to not be afraid of feeling our feelings.
a. We need to learn to trust the emotion of sadness.
b. If we feel sad, then feel sad. Sadness is there to help us.
c. Own it, embrace it, and trust in it.
d. When we trust the emotion of sadness we allow it to guide us through our pain and grief, and we become stronger for it.
e. We must make space for sadness to be a part of our lives and our experience.
4. Another way that we can benefit from the emotion of sadness is the way it helps us connect with others.
a. Sharing our sadness helps us be more vulnerable with others.
b. Being in touch with our sadness helps us to empathize with the sadness of others.
c. As we become more comfortable with normal feelings of sadness, then we are able to help others feel comfortable with their sadness.
d. Then the tendency to want to fix and rid sadness will disappear.
5. Sadness can also serve to remind us of what matters most and what gives our life meaning.
E. Let’s talk for a minute about why many of us may be afraid to allow ourselves to feel sad.
1. For one thing, we may be afraid that tapping into any sadness will open up the well of our buried emotions, and that we won’t be able to get out of the place of sadness.
2. Also, sadness is often mistakenly confused with depression, but they are not the same.
3. Unlike depression, sadness is a natural part of life and is usually connected with certain experiences of pain or loss, and can also follow after a meaningful moment of connection or joy that brings value to our lives.
4. Depression, on the other hand, can arise without a clear explanation or can result from an unhealthy, non-adaptive reaction to a painful event, where we either harden ourselves against our natural reaction to the event or get overwhelmed by it.
5. In reality, depression affects millions of Americans and can have many forms including a persistent depressive disorder (symptoms lasting 2 years or more), major depression (symptoms lasting at least 2 weeks); post-partum depression (following the birth of a baby), and seasonal affective disorder (that effects people during the longer dark days of winter).