In times of great distress and pain we can sometimes feel that we are the sum of our emotions. Emotions that are overwhelming and hard, emotions that seem to take up our whole being. In these times conversely, we can also feel that God is distant, that he doesn’t understand the extremes of our emotions and that he is uncaring.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our God is not a passive father that watches our emotional turmoil from a distance. Instead he is present with us in our emotional ups and downs.
I love how David says in the psalms:
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
(Psalm 56:8 NLT)
Think about that for a moment, God counts your tears.
He values our emotions so much that he collects them, he takes note of each tear shed. I have never tried to count my own tears but given the way I cry there must be hundreds of them. God takes note of each and every one. What a beautiful image. He sees our tears as something worth keeping. He sees our sorrows as meaningful, they have a beauty and a purpose of their own.
And yet that is not how we feel about our emotions, especially the bigger ones, the ones we see as more ugly and less worthy. Emotions such as anger, frustration, and grief. These are emotions we want to hide, and often we believe that these ugly emotions distance us from our father.
But we forget that he is the one who created us. What’s more he created us in his image. We are emotional beings and so is he. There are countless examples in the bible where God gets angry, frustrated, or grieves. He intimately understands these emotions.
He has created us to experience a spectrum of emotions and because he is present with us he asks us to bring these emotions to him. He doesn’t see one emotion as being better than another. Instead he asks us to honestly share our emotions.
Like David in the psalms he asks us to voice the depth of our sorrow, the quick fire of our anger, the constant niggle of our frustrations. And like David we find that when we do this, he is gracious to us, and accepts us as we are, raw ugly emotions and all.
Do you have the courage to be honest about your emotions with your father today? Do you trust him with the emotions that you feel are ugly?
For in him you have a God who understands and values your emotions.
May you be accepting of your emotions.
May you take them to the one who created you.
And may you know he is present with you in the depths of those emotions.
PS: This post is part of a winter devotional series “Present with us”. The intro is here, and the next post will be next Wednesday.