- Don't worry. Be happy.
- You have the joy of your salvation; you shouldn't be sad
- Don't fret; God never gives you more than you can handle.
- You are more than a conqueror in Christ.
- What doesn't kill you , only makes you stronger.
These things have been said by well meaning Christians to others as encouragement.
Most of the time..................................
Yet, there are times they have been said by people too proud to admit they didn't know what to say. They compounded problems for the one that was suffering because they didn't have the time to invest in another's specific problem.
Psalm 23 is one of the most well known psalms of the bible, and tends to be used during difficult times.
Some verses are more quoted than others and cause for debate on the original text such as verse 4.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
The meaning and interpretation of rod and staff have long been debated as figuratively or literally. I have no intentions of bringing that to the table of discussion only to say the psalm itself refers to God as the loving shepherd. Shepherds need tools and certain characteristics in order to do well. God's word can lead to correction to the wise before a literal staff is ever needed. The new testament shows us how God's spirit is our helper or comforter.
The last part of verse 4 tells us God comforts us. Strongs gives us the definitions of the word comfort as it is used in the bible.
a primitive root; properly, to sigh, i.e. breathe strongly; by implication, to be sorry, i.e. (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself):--comfort (self), ease (one's self), repent(-er,-ing, self)
Sighing is a sign of distress to those reading body language.
My dog is very sensitive to my state of emotions. She will give me away when I try to hide sadness from my family. Her eyes sadden and she will sigh heavily with me. God has deep empathy for us. He does not distance himself if we are struggling. He sighs with us.
The word "helper" means: one who comes running when we cry for help.
Have you ever seen every woman's head pop up in a public place because a child cries out?
Studies show that young children actually can sense the emotional state of adults even if they express no outward signs of distress. I believe it is in the innocence of a child having no prerequisite of strength in order to love. God is our rock he is our fortress. He does not require us to be strong. In fact the bible says, (2 cor 12:11) when I am weak then I am strong.
Psalms is saturated with the repentant sinner, the grief stricken, the persecuted, the desperate and suffering crying out to God. The bible lets us know it is proper to be grieved over things that happen in life. It is not a sign of lack of faith. There is not a specific timeline for when we should be singing "Don't worry; be happy." It is not wrong to be sad at the loss of a loved one. The prophet Elisha expressed the heart of God over the widow losing her husband and son. Jesus raised the dead son of a widow and He wept with the sisters over their loss of Lazarus.
There was a prophetess named Anna that lost her husband at an early age. She loved the lord, and the bible doesn't say why God promised her, but he promised her that she would see the promised one. She was at the temple day and night and never re-married. Could it be that her loss and expression of grief to Him, gave her such an opportunity? I don't know, but I know that God blessed her desire to be in his presence with a beautiful place in the bible and a precious moment to see Jesus. He cares for the widows, and charges his people to take that command seriously.
Psalms tells us God is the father to the fatherless, husband to the widow, and sets the lonely in families. If we as Christians do not sigh with, or mourn with those who are mourning, because we see their trial as trivial, they will find comfort elsewhere. The fatherless can be exploited, the widow may pursue unhealthy relationships or fall into dark depression, and the lonely may seek refuge in a gang or all sorts of addictions.
Are Christians always supposed to be happy?
The bible even condones anger, but admonishes us not to sin. Everything is to be done in moderation, but when "Happy" is expected as a sign of Christianity, we fail to realize even Jesus suffered and He told us we would suffer. The truth sets us free, and we need to be able to be transparent with our brothers and sisters about our needs. If we need to cry, we need a brother that sees it as an honor to offer a shoulder. We need to have the humility to be quiet and listen without offering pat answers and just offer to sigh along with our friend.
Lord send us friends that will help bind up the wounded hearts, and help us be your hands and feet to wipe away tears, and dance with joy. Help us mourn with those who are mourning and laugh with those who are laughing.