July 22, 2014

Not Stuffing, Nor Enslavement--But Prayer

Throughout scripture we don't get a ton of specific teaching on emotions, but they are the colors the bring vibrancy to so many of the people in scripture, and we also serve a God who is emotional Himself. Take just a small peek...

God gets righteously angry, as well as compassionate over and towards brokenness and sin over and over again. Hannah wept and cried over her lack of children--to the point where Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. Naomi experienced a season of bitterness. David... David has this bi-polar behavior that comes out in all of his psalms; it's like one minute he's in agony, crying, confused, and questioning, then the next he's joyfully praising and shouting. Then there was also that time he worshiped in the city streets practically in the nude (that's a fun story to study). All the prophets lamented and had experiences with isolation, fear, anxiety, and depression. Job... oh man, he got hit hard. Jesus, God made man--the incarnation--He laughed, joyfully partied, got angry at the Pharisees time and time again, cried with and for his friends and followers, then suffered the greatest amount of pain and rejection any human ever could on the cross.

We cannot stuff our emotions. There's a huge group of Christians who have been sold into the idea that emotions are bad, and to be avoided. The problem with that is that as human beings we were made to reflect a God who has and shows us His emotions, and hiding or stuffing emotions is the building of a bomb within the walls of our hearts. At some point it is going to go off, leaving worse debris, had we not diagnosed and tended the feelings and emotions in the first place.

We cannot be enslaved to our emotions. Sometimes we can swing to the other side of the pendulum and trust emotions as king, as our guiding compass to everything. This is likewise just as damaging because on this end of things we excuse wisdom from the table. Emotions that are ill-informed can lead to selfish behaviors in the long-run. This skips over the whole bit on establishing our hearts in the love and knowledge of Christ.

But...

We can pray through our emotions. I so appreciated how Tim Keller put it in one of his sermons as he was preaching through the book of Psalms, which for the record is an emotional roller coaster ride. Often, as already mentioned, in the Christianity we've taken a path of pushing feelings and emotions aside, declaring that they're not good they cannot be trusted, and that we should avoid them. On other end, culture encourages people to be totally free with their feeling and emotions; these are the guiding lights to a life of happiness, but both of these are inaccurate. With the Bible we have another way of handling these messy feelings and emotions that Keller talks about: pray through your feelings.

It's in prayer that we examine and wrestle through whether or not our feelings our rooted in God's wisdom. Prayer offer the place of quiet to untangle the mess our feelings can become jumbled in. When we pray through our emotions, we're taking a step back--we're giving ourselves the space to not react without thoughtfulness.

All those men and women in scripture who are, you know, kinda crazy emotional? They all have this thing in common: The were ferocious at praying--at pouring out their cries and feelings to God. We would do well to take note and do likewise I believe.
Every single emotion you have should be processed in prayer. ~Tim Keller

2 comments :

  1. Read this the other day and forgot to comment and tell you how much it spoke to me! I read on a day when I was teetering on a seesaw of emotions. I've been at the stuffing place and the enslaved place many times and truth be told, they are not only bad responses, they're unhealthy. I think my adrenal fatigue has made me step back and evaluate how I'm dealing with emotional stress. Your article is such a good reminder of where my hope should be found in the midst of my stress and pain. I'm finding when I turn to the Lord in prayer in the midst of difficult times, He is faithful to give me unexplainable peace and joy. No, I'm not always giddy, but I'm at rest when I trust Him.

    Thank you so much for this wise reminder, my friend!

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    Replies
    1. Good to hear you like it Melinda!

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