Are you feeling tired, worn down, anxious, depressed, or spiritually thirsty right now in the middle of our messy world? No matter what season of life you are currently in, the world-wide Covid pandemic has surely taken it’s toll on your life. Maybe you’re a college girl who had to take online classes this spring or who missed walking across the stage at graduation. Maybe you are a single working woman whose work was vastly affected by the shut-down. Or maybe you are a wife and mother feeling burned out from caring for your family in this chaotic time. Whether you have felt alone and isolated in this season because of lack of social interaction or have felt burned out from too much interaction with the people around you, or a combination of both, the Psalms in Scripture offer an authentic place for us to voice our cares, questions, and feelings.
An Invitation to Wrestle with Emotions
When it comes to our emotions, our tendency is to vacillate between several extremes. We can stuff our feelings, thinking it is more “spiritual” to just praise the Lord with a smile pasted on our face, trying to be “positive” and “grateful” with a spiritual logic of “God is good” because that is often easier than to admit that our hearts are breaking. Or on the other hand, we can let our feelings rule and dictate our lives rather than being anchored in the truth and lens of God’s character.
Yet the Psalms invite us to wrestle. They help us articulate what it is that we are feeling. They encourage us to lay our honest emotions at the Lord’s feet and voice to the Lord all our questions, rather than simply slap a “truth band-aid” on them. They also invite us to learn what is true about God, our world, and our role in it. In the Psalms, truth and emotions intersect to weave a beautiful tapestry for our lives.
Jesus Himself models this for us. How often in the Gospels do we see Him weeping over brokenness around Him? Jesus, who was the ultimate Healer! In John 11, we see Jesus weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus, just moments before He knew He was going to raise him from the dead. Why would He cry over something that He was about to reverse? Jesus empathized with suffering. Not only that, he grieved over the state of our fallen world, for he knew things were not as they should be.
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled…Jesus wept.” (vv.33,35)
The God of the Universe came close to our suffering as the God-Man, Jesus, tasted our sorrows and pain for the 32 years that he walked on earth. He understands feelings such as isolation, sorrow, natural fears, abandonment, for he felt them too. In Luke 22, we see Jesus voicing His feelings to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane before He went to the cross. Yet we also see him anchored in the truth and will of His Father, as He trusted God with the suffering He was about to endure.
Even though we know God wants us to come to Him with our emotions, sometimes we just don’t have words to express them. Thankfully, Scripture tells us that “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…” (Romans 8:26) What a comfort to know that the Spirit intercedes and speaks for us when we can’t do so for ourselves!
An Example from Psalm 42
In Psalm 42, we see an example of how to bring our emotions to the Lord.
The psalmist voices to the Lord in prayer his spiritual thirst and despair. He asks questions. He also reminds himself of God’s character and where his hope ultimately lies. We can see this in verses 7-9:
“Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me?'”
Here David first voices what he is experiencing and how he feels, while at the same time reminding himself of the Lord’s steadfast, unfailing love. Then he goes on to claim both a promise of God’s character—that He is a rock—while at the same time voicing to the Lord an honest, probably emotion- filled question, “Why have you forgotten me. Where are You anyway?!”
These verses are a window into the pattern of many of the Psalms and show us that our God actually expects us to come to Him with our emotions and questions. Both can help lead us to greater intimacy with the Lord as we learn to voice them to Him. As we do so, we can be confident that we have a sympathizing Savior who has felt what we felt, yet never sinned (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Our emotions and questions are an invitation to commune with the Lord. The Psalms can help give us words to express to God what is on our hearts and minds. What will you do with that invitation today?
About the Author:
Rachel Kuchem is a native of Fort Worth,Texas where she currently lives. She received her LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) in 2019 and has her own private practice, Re-Viving Lives Counseling, where she is passionate about Biblically counseling girls and young women, desiring to connect the Gospel to broken places. Rachel is a member of Trinity PCA in Fort Worth. Rachel enjoys Tex Mex, dancing, the outdoors, reading, writing, and conversations over a cup of tea.