It's Okay to Feel Bad
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In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve heard some of my friends say that they feel bad that they are feeling bad. They are sometimes overcome by feelings of depression, sadness, and worry. They are anxious and upset. And they feel guilty because, they say, “I’m a Christian. I love God and trust in Him. I shouldn’t be feeling this way!”
Let me assure you that I struggle frequently with negative emotions, too. What I want to remind all of us today as Christians is that it is okay to feel bad. We are living through a crisis. Our routines have been upended. Our finances are in disarray. Our health and our lives are in jeopardy. Of course our emotions are going to be a jumbled mess!
What separates the believer from the non-believer is not our emotions, but what we do with our emotions. As Christians, we are called not to confuse feelings with facts. We are not to act based on emotions, but on our faith.
Will we feel depressed at times because the world seems to be spinning out of control? Yes. And it’s okay to feel depressed. But the fact is, God is in control, and we act in faith on that truth.
Will we feel anxious at times because of money concerns or health concerns? Yes. And it’s okay that anxious feelings come. But the fact is, God is good and we need to act in faith on that truth.
Remember that feelings are just that – feelings. They are fleeting emotions that are not in our control. What we think about those feelings and how we choose to act are in our control.
So, don’t feel bad that you feel bad. There’s nothing to feel guilty about or ashamed of. Your emotions are just that – emotions. Don’t confuse feelings with facts. The facts – the truth of the Word of God – remain the same in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Don’t confuse feelings with faith. Your faith – what you live and act on – is what will set you apart from a world that is driven by frenzied emotion.
The psalms give us many examples of the interplay between feelings, facts, and faith. Listen to these words ... in each passage, the psalmist expresses strong negative emotions – despair, fear, sorrow, anxiety, even terror. Yet in each case, the words of feeling give way to words of faith as the psalmist reaffirms his trust in the facts of who God is. It is this affirmation of trust in the midst of crisis that we, as Christians, need to proclaim to the world.
Psalm 42:11 –
Why are you in despair, O my soul? and why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 56:3-4,13 –
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?
For You have delivered my soul from death,
indeed my feet from stumbling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of the living.
Psalm 13 –
How long, O LORD?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 94:19 –
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.
Psalm 61:1-4 –
Hear my cry, O God;
give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You
when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge
in the shelter of Your wings.
Psalm 116:1-9 –
I love the Lord, because He hears
my voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
I shall call upon Him as long as I live.
The cords of death encompassed me
and the terrors of Sheol came upon me;
I found distress and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!”
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
yes, our God is compassionate.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have rescued my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
Psalm 31:14-15a –
As for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand.