I have been greatly humbled, Lord Jehovah;
give me life according to your word.
Pain, lack, limitations, broken relationships, financial pressures are all humbling experiences. I tend to have emotions that run the gamut from fear to peace and back again. When my emotions try to get the best of me, I turn to the Psalms. The writers of these psalms wrote of their emotions, our emotions. They, too, knew what it was like to be humbled by circumstances beyond their control. They understood the emotional upheaval this can cause. These are some of the emotions expressed in the psalms:
fear, joy, abandonment,
betrayal, despair, sadness,
blessedness, joy, gladness,
pain, grief, anger, fear,
anxiety, guilt, shame, reverence
What I find so interesting about the Psalms is that most of these psalms relating humbling circumstances and painful emotions end in praise. Somewhere in there, there is a turn, an and yet… or a but, and the psalmist breaks out into praise and a purposeful, intentional, looking at God. So, if the psalmists can do these things, we can too, when circumstances are causing our emotions to run amuck.
“The Psalms challenge our shallow experience of God. How deficient we are in expressing everything to God – our joys, sorrows, frustrations, and fears. God wants us to tell him everything. Every emotion and every experience can be the context of worship when expressed to God.
The Psalms are the prayers of Christ. As a faithful Jew, Jesus would have prayed these regularly. The Psalms would shape his faith and practice. Even more, every Psalm speaks of Jesus. In his humanity, he fully experienced every one of these emotions-complete identification with humanity. What greater reason could we have to make these prayers our own-patterning our prayers after them!
The Psalms teach us what it means to experience God with our whole being in every circumstance. We discover that true prayer involves speaking to God in every situation and with every emotional expression. To close part of ourselves to God is to fail to worship God truly and fully. God wants the expression of all our heart – mind, will, and emotions – in every situation to be an act of worship. Only when we fully embrace all we know, feel, and do and express everything to God – the good, bad, and the ugly – do we truly worship!” *
I think this is where the but… or the and yet… came in. The psalmist felt free to express his emotions to God, the good, the bad and the ugly. And when they acknowledged these painful emotions and prayed them out, worship exploded inside them. They were revived.
When we are willing to tell God of our difficult emotions during trying times, He hears, He cares, He isn’t judging us, condemning us for feeling that way, or even turning aside until we get over ourselves. He is waiting patiently, knowing that in the end, His word will have its perfect work in our life and we will be revived according to that word.
How truly grateful I am that I can bring my emotions to You. I don’t have to hide them for fear You will be angry with me. It is so good to know You love me enough to be my “dumping grounds” where I can dump my feelings while, together, You and I sort through them. Your word has revived me so many times in the past, and I know Your word will continue to be my source of life in good times and in bad. Thank You for Your word and the life it brings me. Amen.
*I don’t know who to credit with this. I found this writing somewhere and thought it was worth sharing.
pic credit: 9marks.org