How can I be a Christian when I’m feeling lousy?

I wake up feeling lousy. I’m not remotely interested in praying or thinking loving thoughts. All I want to do is curl up in bed and do nothing. Today I’m a washout as a Christian.

But Jesus didn’t exactly feel great all the time either. He was so exhausted on one occasion that a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee didn’t wake him up. But there’s no record of Jesus getting sick and grumpy, and he never lived to a ripe old age with all its aches and pains either.

It seems like we’re on our own on this one, then, because unlike Jesus we experience all sorts of weaknesses passed down to us by our ancestors. We suffer from accidents and injuries, and old age knocks the stuffing out of us. Add a troubled childhood and we probably have mental and emotional issues too, including bouts of depression, or even thoughts of suicide.

Does God expect Christians to rise above all that, though, and never grumble? Should we always put on a bright face, and be full of love, joy and peace? But how can I leap out of bed every morning all cheery and positive when my head feels hammered, my brain isn’t working, and my body won’t move?

But surely this can’t happen to Christians, can it? We’ve got the Holy Spirit.

Even with the Holy Spirit, though, Christians “groan,” Romans 8:23. Feeling lousy, then, is permitted. It’s an inescapable part of living in a world that God deliberately “subjected to frustration” and “bondage to decay” (verses 20-21). But for Christians it’s even worse, because every day for us is like being stuck in prison when you’re innocent. We’re God’s children, but in this world we can’t be God’s children yet, with beautifully redeemed bodies (verse 23); our bodies have to suffer like everybody else’s.

We will feel sick and horrible, then, and at times we won’t feel like doing anything Christian. But the only non-Christian thing about feeling lousy, according to Paul, is not waiting it out patiently, verse 25. Patience is the sign of a Christian, not being perfectly positive and loving all the time. And patient we can be too, because we know, verse 21, that the whole creation is being “brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

As Christians we know this world is only temporary. It’s like a sickness: It comes, it goes. And whenever we get sick it reminds us of that. Feeling lousy and sick, then, has its good point. While we’re lying there groaning, it’s the best reminder ever that one day, just like our sickness, this mess will be over.

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