• peterfoxwell

EMOTIONAL HONESTY IN TIMES OF ADVERSITY

Updated: Mar 19


Here are my notes for teaching the online Bible study at the Cornerstone on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.


INTRODUCTION

All of us react differently to stress and setbacks. Our emotions kick into overdrive when we feel the heat.


You might have been surprised by the intensity of your emotional response to the virus outbreak. Anxiety, tears, panic, and stress responses are all in the mix.


Feelings and emotions are normal and necessary, but we may not understand them very well. So, this evening, I want to lead us in a very simple Bible study on emotions.


JOB'S EXPERIENCE

Let's start with a Bible passage: Job 1:20:

(Job 1:20) At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship ...

Job experienced and expressed very strong emotions of grief and sorrow and praise. Ripping clothes and shaving heads was a way devout JewIsh men expressed their sorrow or horror.


You probably know why Job behaved this way: in a very short space of time, he lost his family, his crops, his herds, and his health. It was devastating financially, spiritually, and emotionally.


The fact that the passage says he worshipped, tells us that Job expressed all these emotions to God.


EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL, NOT SINFUL

Here's the thing: what Job did was normal, natural, human, and totally OK with God. Verse 22 says:

(Job 1:22) In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

We can tell God how we feel because God gave us the ability to feel. He made us in his image and emotions are part of the package. God has emotions too. He feels anger, compassion, grief, love and so on just as we do; except he does not turn his emotions into sinful behavior.


Verse 22 reminds us of an important insight: it is OK to have an emotional response to hard times, but it is not OK to get bitter or cynical or resentful. Bitterness will eat you up. But releasing our emotions to God will build us up. Here's how to do that ..


TURN YOUR EMOTIONS INTO PRAYER AND WORSHIP

The best thing to do is to turn your emotions into prayer and worship. Job vented and worshipped. Many centuries later, when Jerusalem was destroyed and many many adults and children were killed by an invading army, the author of Lamentations wrote:

(Lamentations 2:19) ... pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.

The book of Psalms is full of emotional venting. For example:

  • Loneliness: “I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalms 25:16).

  • Love: “I love you, O Lord, my strength” (Psalms 18:1).

  • Sorrow: “My life is spent with sorrow” (Psalms 31:10).

  • Regret: “I am sorry for my sin” (Psalms 38:18).

  • Discouragement and turmoil: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me” (Psalms 42:5)?

  • Shame: “Shame has covered my face” (Psalms 44:15).

  • Exultation: “In your salvation how greatly he exults” (Psalms 21:1).

Remember this: God made you with emotions and he's never surprised or offended by what we feel. You can safely tell him exactly how you feel. Let him get involved - he already knows how you feel. That's a healthy way to cope with your situation.


CONCLUSION: TELL IT TO JESUS

These are very difficult days for everyone. Some are sick, some are worried about loved ones who are sick. There are financial disruptions and some have lost their jobs. And on and on it goes.


I'll be honest, I'm worried about my son, Jamie who works in an Emergency Room. I'm feeling a lot of stress about online church and how we're going to maintain our experience of church family. None of us are immune to emotional upheaval.


So what are we all going to do with our emotional experiences?


Do not deny, stuff, or feel guilty about how you feel. That's counter-productive and it will keep you from asking for God's help.


The very best thing you can do is tell it all to Jesus. Be open and honest with him. He loves you and he has compassion on you in your struggles. He hears you when you speak to him. He won't reject you. If you need a Bible reassurance of this, read Psalm 145. It has helped me so much.


I found the following examples in various sources online.


HUMAN EMOTIONS IN THE PSALMS

  • Loneliness: “I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalms 25:16).

  • Love: “I love you, O Lord, my strength” (Psalms 18:1).

  • Awe: “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him” (Psalms 33:8).

  • Sorrow: “My life is spent with sorrow” (Psalms 31:10).

  • Regret: “I am sorry for my sin” (Psalms 38:18).

  • Contrition: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalms 51:17).

  • Discouragement and turmoil: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me” (Psalms 42:5)?

  • Shame: “Shame has covered my face” (Psalms 44:15).

  • Exultation: “In your salvation how greatly he exults” (Psalms 21:1).

  • Marveling: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalms 118:23).

  • Delight: “His delight is in the law of the Lord” (Psalms 1:2).

  • Joy: “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” (Psalms 4:7).

  • Gladness: “I will be glad and exult in you” (Psalms 9:2).

  • Fear: “Serve the Lord with fear” (Psalms 2:11).

  • Anger: “Be angry, and do not sin” (Psalms 4:4).

  • Peace: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep” (Psalms 4:8).

  • Grief: “My eye wastes away because of grief” (Psalms 6:7).

  • Desire: “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted” (Psalms 10:17).

  • Hope: “Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you” (Psalms 33:22).

  • Brokenheartedness: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18).

  • Gratitude: “I will thank you in the great congregation” (Psalms 35:18).

  • Zeal: “Zeal for your house has consumed me” (Psalms 69:9).

  • Pain: “I am afflicted and in pain” (Psalms 69:29).

  • Confidence: “Though war arise against me, yet I will be confident” (Psalms 27:3).

GOD'S EMOTIONS

  • Anger – Psalm 7:11; Deuteronomy 9:22; Romans 1:18

  • Compassion – Psalm 135:14; Judges 2:18; Deuteronomy 32:36

  • Grief – Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40

  • Love – 1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Jeremiah 31:3

  • Hate – Proverbs 6:16; Psalm 5:5; Psalm 11:5

  • Jealousy – Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14; Joshua 24:19 •

  • Joy – Zephaniah 3:17; Isaiah 62:5; Jeremiah 32:41

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