10 Reasons Why I’m Sad but God Is Still Good

Annie Yorty

Crosswalk Contributing Writer
Published Feb 15, 2024
10 Reasons Why I’m Sad but God Is Still Good

“Shouldn’t I feel happy?” My friend swiped at tears that glistened in her eyes. “After all, I’m a Christian.” Lori gripped her steaming mug of tea and lowered her gaze. Her mom had died a few months earlier, and she struggled to cope with the loss even as she cared for her three rambunctious boys.

Many followers of God hold the same misperception Lori held. We have Jesus as our Savior. He washed away our sins. Aren’t we supposed to feel happy in every situation?

We forget the raw emotion Jesus displayed when he wept over his dead friend. Jesus felt sad despite his knowledge that Lazarus would come back to life. We also forget Jesus promised we would have “many trials and sorrows” in our lives as His followers (John 16:33 NLT).

As Christians, we have permission to feel sad. We cannot avoid this emotion. But we also cannot judge the goodness of God’s character based on our feelings.

King David wrote most of the psalms to anchor Himself to God’s goodness even as he worked through intense life events and the normal emotions that accompany them. As we consider ten common reasons for sadness, we can follow David’s example of reliance on God’s proven character in our own periods of trouble and sadness.

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1. Loss

As a warrior, David witnessed and even participated in gruesome death and destruction for years. On the battlefield, he lost friends and countrymen. He also suffered grief and recrimination at the death of some of his own family, including his children. Death is not the only type of loss that produces extended sadness. David vividly wrote about other losses, including estranged relationships, dreams, and physical abilities. When we read his accounts, we see the goodness of God woven amid the pain.

  • Death

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 NLT)

Whether David faced his own possible death or walked through the valley of grief from the death of a loved one, God stayed close and guided him through it with directions and discipline.

  • Estranged Relationship

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. (Psalm 147:3 NLT)

David’s own son, Absalom, committed terrible sins against his sister and later rebelled against his father. The two did not communicate for years. He also contended with dysfunctional marriages, including a wife who married another man. As he reflected on these heartbreaks, he wrote in more than one psalm about the healing balm of God.

  • Unfulfilled Dreams or Expectations

I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done. The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not let me die. Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the Lord. These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there. (Psalm 118:17-20 NLT)

As a man after God’s heart, David longed to build a temple for the Lord’s permanent dwelling place. He prepared plans and collected materials. But God sent the prophet Nathan to deliver some disappointing news. David would not be allowed to build the temple. At the same time, God established His better plan in which He would build a house, a royal dynasty, through David’s heirs that would eventually produce the promised Messiah. Though he was sad, David praised God for overriding his own plan.

  • Physical Health and Abilities

I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief. A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken. I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh. (Psalm 38:6-9 NLT)

David wrote this excruciating psalm in the latter part of his life. We don’t know the source of his pain. It may have been an illness or simply the ravages of age. Apparently, his enemies sought to take advantage of his weakened state. Nevertheless, David declared the Lord cared about every sigh that escaped his lips.

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2. Unmet Needs

David lived as a nomadic soldier for more than a decade of his life. Often, he holed up in caves, hiding from a deranged king who had signed his death warrant. He and his men never knew where the next meal would come from. They often depended on the kindness and loyalty of countrymen for food and provisions.

When worried about survival, he perceived God as the helper who always came through, just in the nick of time.

As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay. (Psalm 40:17 NLT)

3. Purposelessness

When David was an older teen, the prophet, Samuel, anointed him as the next king after Saul. But more than a decade elapsed before David took the throne. During that interim, David hid from the current king, defending himself in skirmishes every now and then. I wonder if sadness led him to question all the waiting and struggle. Did his commitment to his purpose and significance with God grow dim under the weight of adversity?

I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me. Interlude. My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness. (Psalm 57:2-3 NLT)

David was tempted on several occasions to seize power from Saul to forge his own purpose and timing rather than wait for God’s plan to unfold. In one of those moments, he wrote a reminder that God was always moving to fulfill His purpose for David.

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4. Injustice

If ever a man knew injustice, it was David. With a sincere heart, he served God and King Saul when he felled Goliath. Then he faithfully attended Saul to assuage his foul moods. In return, Saul hunted him like an animal. Later in life, David’s trusted advisors betrayed him. His own son undermined his authority and stole his throne. His subjects believed lies about him and gave their loyalty to others. These events stretched on for years. No wonder David felt sad.

David reminded himself the Lord sees all and will bring about a just result.

But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked, punishing them with scorching winds. For the righteous Lord loves justice. The virtuous will see his face. (Psalm 11:4-7 NLT)

5. Difficult Relationships

David knew God designed him for relationship with Himself and others. His friendship with Jonathan is a shining example of brotherly love. But not every relationship flourished. The Bible tells how marital discord, prodigal children, backstabbing coworkers, and David’s own sin caused ongoing strife and sadness. David compared these problems to a raging sea.

I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. (Psalm 42:7-8 NLT)

Though the sea of sadness threatened to drown him, David remembered and received the goodness of God’s unfailing love to get him through the dark night.

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6. Loneliness

Over the years he hid from King Saul, and intense loneliness assailed David. He and his men moved from cave to cave seeking shelter and security. Life on the run deprived them of their wives and children. David lost the companionship of his best friend as well. Mourning these losses, David trusted the goodness of God to stand in the gap of his loneliness.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” . . . Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. (Psalm 27:7-8, 10 NLT)

7. Hopelessness

One of the lowest points in David’s life came when Absalom, his son, usurped his throne. Then David’s trusted advisor divulged the king’s vulnerabilities to torment him. Together, they recruited the elders of Israel to join them and plotted his demise. As an older, weaker man, David was once again on the run.

They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They praise me to my face but curse me in their hearts. Interlude Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. (Psalm 62:4-7 NLT)

In hopelessness, David trusted the goodness of God for his future.

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8. Depression

Some speculate that if David were alive today, he would be diagnosed with depression—a deep, persistent sense of sadness. While we can’t necessarily draw that conclusion, his psalms reveal the depth and strength of his raw emotions.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

As a man of many sorrows, David understood his sadness affected God as well. God saved all David’s tears because he treasures every part of his beloved people, down to the last teardrop. David believed with all his heart that God would work everything, even his sorrow, together for good.

9. God Seems Distant

Though David was a man after God’s heart, he experienced times when God seemed distant. Often, the distance came from unconfessed sin. On one such occasion, David had committed adultery and murdered a loyal army officer to cover up the offense.

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? . . . But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me. (Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6 NLT)

Even when he floundered in the mire of sin, David believed God would be merciful to him.

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10. Fear

David was no stranger to fear. On one particularly low occasion, he even feigned madness to save himself from an enemy. After he finally stopped relying on his own schemes, he found courage from the Lord.

The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. (Psalm 118:6-7 NLT)

Proving the Goodness of God

God never wastes the circumstances that cause our sadness. He uses troubles that are common to all people to prove His goodness to us.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)

As I told my sad friend, we won’t always feel happy. That expectation is unreasonable in the face of life’s troubles.

We can, however, rejoice and thank God for proving his goodness through those trials. Enveloped in God’s goodness, our confidence in Him grows. Over time, we become more and more certain His love is strong enough to carry us through any sadness.

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Writer Annie YortyAnnie Yorty writes and speaks to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. She has written From Ignorance to Bliss: God’s Heart Revealed through Down SyndromePlease connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.

Originally published Friday, 16 February 2024.