Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”
SHORT AND SWEET: Emotions are an important part of life but should NOT be the criteria we use for decision making.
God has emotions. Many times throughout the Old Testament the Lord was “sorry” that He made mankind, or chose Israel, or generally acted on behalf of people who rejected Him. In Jesus’ life we see weeping, anger, and joy. Emotions are not evil; they are part of life–BUT–they are to be ruled. God tempered His emotions and did not act out of them, as we see in this Psalm (I encourage you to read the whole thing), though he obviously had very strong emotions. After all, He was being crucified!
Jesus was distraught and felt completely alone because he was not experiencing the Lord’s miraculous protection and salvation in that moment–at a physical level. We can relate to that. When we go through our various trials and hardships our minds immediately cry out for relief. We don’t want to endure rejection, despair, isolation, and pain. In these hardships are born emotions that can prompt us to take matters into our own hands and flee difficulty–this is the human way–but it is not the “God” way.
If you keep reading in this Psalm you will see Jesus in despair, crying out to the Father, declaring that He was not answering His call. But then He would immediately remember the Father’s authority, power, and tradition of how faithful people had trusted in Him. In this Psalm, Jesus alternated between despair and recognition of a contrasting truth. Jesus could have followed His emotions and departed from the suffering He was experiencing; blaming it on God for not showing up and delivering Him. But instead He chose to answer His emotional compulsion with a controlled and objective response. He was not controlled by His emotions.
APPLICATION: We should give our emotions their due weight, but not let them decide how we act. Being self aware is important. Knowing how we truly feel is what allows us to then use our minds to decide how to respond. A person driven completely by emotions will never be able to trust in the Lord because they will never endure difficulty–they will always act compulsively on their own behalf. As Christians, we are often used by God to demonstrate His sacrificial love. Sacrificial love by definition requires a sacrifice–that is–the one doing the loving! And could this be accomplished without enduring the pain that comes with sacrifice? Of course not. Remember the Lord and who He is. Remember that He is sovereign and will deliver from pain at the right time. Continue to cry out in affliction if that is how you feel, but do not let that be all…at the same time declare His amazing grace and majesty!!
*For all the therapists out there, you will certainly recognize that this is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy! Credit to Marsha Linehan for the “wise mind” image.