What To Do When You’re Unhappy With Your Life

You know those seasons of life that leave you feeling unhappy?

Maybe you prayed for something and got the opposite.
Maybe you’ve wished your whole life to be somewhere you’re not.
Maybe people have disappointed you and relationships have left you unsatisfied.
Or maybe you feel like you’re standing in a puddle of purposelessness.

The cries of “God, anywhere but here! Anything but this!” echo loud in your heart and you feel unhappy.

Maybe your prayers haven't been answered as you hoped, or things went opposite of the way you'd hoped. You've felt like saying, "Anywhere But Here!" - What to do when you're unhappy with your life

First, I’d like to say that you are not alone. The Bible is full of stories of God’s people dealing with sadness and discontentment. I deal with sadness and discontentment. You’re not alone.

Second, I’d like to tell you that it is time to do something about this unhappiness. As Christians, joy is one of the beautiful gifts of our salvation. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” [1 Peter 1:8]

Faith = Hope. Hope = Joy.

Therefore, we have all reason to be joyful – to work on this deep within ourselves so that we can say with confidence, “It is well with my soul.

I don’t want to offer you 5 Steps to Being More Joyful or The Key to Getting Happy. Because, if I’m honest, I don’t believe that five steps or some secret will help you with this, dear one.

Here’s the honest truth: joy comes from the heart. So, when you have a joy problem, you have a heart problem.

And I believe that heart problem is rooted in what Jeremiah 2 calls “broken cisterns”.

“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” [Jeremiah 2:13]

Broken cisterns are anything that we choose to put our faith and hope in apart of Christ. In other words, they represent the idols of our hearts.

Things like money, beauty, future plans, a person, a place, an idea. It could be the deep-rooted belief that you’d be happier somewhere else or with someone else. Maybe it’s the loud dissatisfaction with your weight or your home.

When we put our hope and our faith in these things – these broken cisterns of our heart – we lose sight of the very gift of Living Water in Jesus.

So the solution to our unhappiness isn’t taking five steps. Rather, it’s reorienting our hearts to the Living Water.

It’s saying yes to God & only God.

I prayed a bold prayer recently and was met with a “no.” I was crushed. Why God? I don’t understand. I had been confident that this prayer would be answered my way.

And God had something different in mind.

In the stillness of the moment, with fresh tears on my cheeks and questions swirling in my mind, I had a choice to make. I could allow this “no” to cause hardness of my heart or I could answer God with a “yes”.

I could not do both.

The temptation to become bitter and angry was real & present. It hurt. I cried.

And then I came across 1 Peter 1:8. “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Joy was the only answer I could give. Why? Well, my hope and my faith are not in the broken cisterns of this broken world.

Would my plan have been easier? Maybe.
Would my plan have been more comfortable? Most likely.

But my plan would have been for me. My plan was a broken cistern – an idol of my heart. And God said no.

So my response in the day-to-day after this big “no” is simple joy. Joy that looks like tears some days and celebration the next.

If you are unsatisfied with where you’ve been placed, reorient your heart by choosing to say “yes” to God and God alone.

What does this look like practically? Let me show you in Scripture.

It looks like living this verse out day to day… “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” {Proverbs 3:5-6}

It looks like believing that… “God also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.” {Psalm 40:2}

It looks like being confident that “…He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” {Philippians 1:6}

It looks like understanding that… “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace towards me is not in vain…” {1 Corinthians 15:10}

It looks like knowing from the depths of you that… “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Has He said and will He not do? Has He spoken and will He not make it good?” {Numbers 23:19}

It looks like taking comfort in the truth that… “lo, I (Jesus) am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” {Matthew 28:20b}

It looks like repeating this promise in moments of doubt… “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” {Romans 8:32}

It looks like placing your hope in the promise of… “’For I am know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” {Jeremiah 29:11}

When you feel unhappy with where you’ve been placed – and believe me, I’m preaching to the choir here – you’ve put your hope in the wrong place. We have a choice.

We can put our hope in the Living Water who redeemed and restored our souls, or we can try drinking from the false earthly hope of broken vessels and cracked water-wells.

Choose the Living Water and say “yes” to God & God alone today.

Even in the discomfort and the pain, the unknown and the fear, give God the bold “yes” of your hope and faith.

Alison TAlison is a wife, blogger, and Jesus-follower growing in grace and truth daily. She loves coffee in the morning, experimenting in the kitchen, camping with her husband, and reading in a hammock just about anywhere. Her blog – found at AlisonTiemeyer.com – exists to encourage bold authenticity grounded in God’s grace. Basically, it’s some good soul talk in the midst of the mundane.”

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  1. It also looks like Isaiah 41:10 , because when you deal with schizophrenia on a daily basis it wears you out and when you are tired the enemy will place fear before you and hopelessness , sonI pray this vers daily and it helps . I can’t be thankful about my son’s disease but I can be thankful th God prepared me from beginning to deal with it and with other things in my life, no I won’t grow bitter because I have learned to guard my heart above all else .

    1. The sweet promise of the Lord telling us “do not fear” is definitely a truth to lean deeply into! Your situation does not sound easy, and yet you are choosing thankfulness. Keep persevering. Keep choosing thankfulness. Keep guarding your heart. The Lord will uphold you with His righteous right hand… :)

  2. WOW, HUM, wish I could better grasp the solutions you’ve presented for this dilemma, cause you described my life (frownie face). Once you’ve given up, it’s hard to care about getting back in the fight. Its almost impossible, though with God it’s said, all things are possible, to change the way we think. Because after all reality is reality. ugh!
    But thank you, for discipling difficult people with difficult issues. Here in the South, culture is taught as Godly behavior. So you behave accordingly and that means you’re on the right track. foolishness! Bondage! I tried to conform, but it wasn’t the answer. It does nothing to change your heart, it only looks like you did.

    1. Hi Dawn, you are so right. “Good behavior” is not the answer and it does not mean that you are on the right track. God looks at the heart, and while we should not choose to sin (Romans 6:1-2), we should choose to accept God’s gift of grace knowing that our “good behavior” will never be enough. I’m sorry you’re in an unhappy place in life. I’ve experienced that & sometimes still do. Choose Jesus over and over again, every day. And thank you for taking the time to comment!

  3. Arabah, your post has just given me confirmation. I, too, have been praying for something and 1 Pet 1:8 is also the verse I was led to. In my case, I’d been living more out of fear than faith, when “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” 1 John 4:18. I was just given a prophetic message that I’d been accepting all the lies the enemy had given me since I was a little girl, but that God wants to give me the desires of my heart. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I wish I could say it’s only one thing that I’m discontent with. As I sit here 39 months into an infertility battle (although I have 2 kids from 11+ years ago), our housing situation is at its worse & our church is falling apart (unsound doctrine). I can’t help but feel he abandoned us.

    1. Oh, Rachel, thanks for your honesty here. Nothing about infertility, rough housing, and a falling church sounds good – I recognize that. I can also connect with the feeling that God has abandoned the situation. There are so many Scriptures I could point you toward, one being Deut. 31:6 – “…for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.” Scripture is powerful, but oftentimes it doesn’t feel like enough. May I encourage you to reflect on God’s faithfulness? Spend time pondering the good God has done, how He has brought you out of the pit, how He works all things for good. Spend time digging into His past faithfulness. It may take some real digging – I know. But dig anyway. He is in this. He will not abandon you. Sending a hug your way!

  5. If God does not change his mind, “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Has He said and will He not do? Has He spoken and will He not make it good?” {Numbers 23:19}, then what is the point of praying for anything? I’ve been praying for my daughter to turn back to him and to stop following the worlds evil ways and to stop believing the lies from the pit of hell, but I see no change. What if no matter how much i pray, God will not veer from this path and my daughter spends eternity in hell, screaming for me to rescue her, but I can’t. No one can. Not even God will! How can this be good? Why won’t he answer my prayers and pleas?!?! If he’s not going to, why should I even bother to pray. I just get hopeful and then crushed as week after week my prayer go unanswered and she does yet another stunt to show how far she’s fallen. I’ve heard that God does not disappoint. Well I’m alway being disappointed. And that ruins any trust I have in him. I am struggling so much. I cry about this situation all the time. My relationship with my unsaved husband is strained because he doesn’t support me and has no problems with my daughter and her choices. Every battle I’ve fought for the last two years or more has been lost. I can’t keep trusting in a God who doesn’t hear. Doesn’t care. Doesn’t answer my prayers. Even an earthly father gives more to his children. Why doesn’t God answer me? I must not be good enough. Eloquent enough. I’m obviously not his favorite child. I’m not asking for me. I’m pleading for my child’s eternal soul!! That is a request worth answering for Petes sake! WHY DOESNT HE ANSWER!?!?!?

    1. Sweet Amy, I am so glad you shared here. Thanks for trusting Arabah Joy & me with these big burdens. They are real, they are honest, and they are completely valid. I’m coming to you with the truth that I am not an expert, but I do love God’s Word, His promises, and His grace. I love having a relationship with Him, and because of that, I feel that I can respond to your comment.

      First, I want to say that Numbers 23:19 is one of my favorite verses in Scripture. I don’t believe that the verse is referring to how we should pray, but rather how we should believe God’s promises. “God is not a man that He should lie…” – God will not lie about His promises & the claims He makes in Scripture. “…nor a son of man that He should change His mind.” People can change their mind about their promises whenever they please, but God will not do that. He has promised protection, provision, grace, mercy, and love to us. He will not change His mind about giving us those things & fulfilling His promise to do so. When you read this verse, think about God’s promises rather than a reason to pray or not.

      There are many other Scriptures that DO speak to how we should pray. 1 John 5:14, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Thess. 5:17, James 1:5, Matthew 6:5-15. Not one of these Scriptures promises that our prayers will be answered the way that we want. I don’t say that to make you upset, but to remind you that GOD is the one who knows all things, keeps His word when He promises something, and has a plan for the future. I don’t believe for a moment that God is choosing not to answer your prayers. Rather, I believe that He knows what is coming next and He knows the perfect answer – and will give it to you at the perfect time. This is all about trusting God, I realize that. It’s all about believing that He is in control & that He has a plan. So, continue praying for your daughter. But I also suggest praying for deeper trust in God & evidence of His presence in your life.

      Finally, Amy, I want to say something about being “good enough”. I am not good enough. Arabah Joy isn’t good enough. You are not good enough. No one is good enough. That is why God gives grace – unconditional, sweet, underserved grace. Grace is our connection to God. Our prayers don’t have to be eloquent, perfect, or even organized. Our prayers just need to come from a place of realizing that on our own we are not good enough, and God’s grace is enough to bridge the gap between our sinfulness and God’s holiness.

      I’m getting long-winded here, but I wanted to surround your questions with solid truth. I completely understand being in a place where you’re unsure why God won’t answer or why He doesn’t give the answer you want. I have been there – and I was in that place very recently. The key to not staying in that place is to surrender & ask for more trust, more peace, more undeserved grace.

      I still doubt. I still struggle. I still wonder why my prayers aren’t answered. You’re not alone, Amy. Please know that I’m always available to chat. [email protected]

      Again, thanks for being honest here. We need each other! Sending a virtual hug to you.

      In Christ,

      Alison Tiemeyer

      1. Thank you Alison. I will reread and think on your words.
        I am doing better right now then when I wrote that comment but I am still so concerned for my daughter. And her sister who has made comments that concern me. Thank you for letting me unburden myself.

  6. Thank you. What a beautiful story you have told here. I have been really struggling lately with what God has for me. I stay home with my boys and homeschool. I try to be a hands-on mama and so that means I don’t have a lot of time to myself, and yet God has instilled in me this desire to write. I am working on a trilogy and prepping one to be published online and to send out to agents, and I also blog…however I feel so spread thin. I truly believe I am to be homeschooling in this time and yet I feel these other things as well. I just blogged yesterday of a frustration I am having and an insecurity I am experiencing with my writing and Proverbs 3:5 has resonated strong within me. To just trust in God and understand he can see what I do not see, and he understands what I do not. Thank you so much for this. I so love 1 Peter 1:8-9. Have a blessed day!

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