I talk to myself a lot, or rather, preach to myself as the ever-helpful Martin Lloyd-Jones reminds us to do. Recently the preacher in my head has been clearly and loudly reminding me: You don’t have to bow to your feelings. I tend towards being a sponge – soaking in and filling up with the emotions of others and owning them – even though they are not mine to own. I’ve begun to see that as I fill up on anxieties or frustration, all I can do as a sponge is wring it back out all over whomever squeezes me at the wrong moment. Thankfully, God is not like this with us – taking on our emotions, being changed by them, and dripping all over us in kind. Yes, He weeps with those who weep and clearly and vividly displays emotion! Yet, He is not controlled by emotions. His response to the sin and brokenness of this world is always perfect, right, and true. My emotions have a place, and rightly so, as God made us to be feeling creatures, but my emotions shouldn’t have the final say about what is true in a situation. God, in his severe mercy, has given me a number of opportunities to practice this lately. As the waves keep crashing, I keep grabbing the opportunities, though sometimes not very well, to sink into the truth. 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to cast all our anxieties on Jesus because he cares for us. I imagine wringing out my emotion onto Jesus, knowing He can handle it, and then asking Him to fill me with the truth, bowing in submission to that truth, not bowing to my ever-changing emotion.
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...
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