So what do you do when life doesn’t make sense, when you can’t make sense of what God is doing? What do you do when you’ve been trying to do everything right, trying to follow God faithfully, and everything seems to be crumbling before your eyes? What I (Angie) am writing here is almost more to teach myself and process life, but here is what I’m learning:
1) God made us with emotions, and we can’t ignore them.
Many Christians don’t have a good theology on emotions. The truth is God created us with emotions. He gave them to us for a purpose. They help us understand the effects the world is having on us. They aren’t perfect, but they aren’t to be ignored.
2) Not only can we not ignore our emotions, but we need to bring them to God. He’s not afraid of them. He can handle our emotions.
Have you read the Psalms? If you have and you still think God doesn’t want to hear about our emotions, go back and re-read Psalms again. Most of the book is the emotional outpourings of King David. It is real. It is raw. It is dark. However, if you pay attention, you’ll notice a pattern. At the beginning of a chapter you’ll hear despair, darkness, anger, but as David processes with God, his outpourings of emotion turn into outpourings of praise towards God. Bringing our emotions to God helps heal us. He gives us the perfect, safe outlet to process what we’re going through.
3) Not only does communicating our emotions to God help us, but God cares.
Another thing you’ll learn reading Psalms is that God CARES about our feelings. He cares about our anguish.
Psalm 22:24 “For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.”
Psalm 31:7 “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.”
Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
Do you hear that? Every single tear we cry is recorded in his book. He’s collected all our tears. He knows our sorrows, and He cares, He loves, He listens.
4) While our emotions were created by God and are real, and while we need to pay attention to them, our emotions do NOT change who God is and what He is doing.
Our feelings, however legitimate they are, do not change who God is. God does not change. Our emotions change. I may feel like God is being cruel to me. But God is not a cruel God. I may feel unloved and that God has nothing good for me. But God is love, He loves me, and He has good things for me. I may feel like God has forgotten about me and my situation and that my life is out of control, but God does not forget and He is in control of my life.
5) When we don’t feel the truth of God, we need to seek God all the more and ask Him to pour His truth into us.
Now let me be honest here, when I say seeking God, you may think that means spending hours in your Bible, hours praying, hours reading spiritual books, but the truth is seeking God in hard times is HARD. Maybe all you can muster is, “Lord, help my unbelief.” (A frequent prayer of mine as of late.) Truth is, for about a solid month I couldn’t open my Bible. I couldn’t muster up any kind of energy to try to listen to Scripture, and honestly I didn’t want to. All I could do was tell God how I was feeling, tell him about my anger, tell him about my doubts, tell him about my fears. I wasn’t running away, but I was hiding. I wanted to speak, but I didn’t want to listen. Then one day as I was speaking, I heard God quietly speak to me, “It’s time to come back.” He was there listening, listening to me vent my feelings. He knew I needed to and He cared, but there comes a time when you have to turn from venting and turn to learning.
So for the second time this year, I simply asked God, “Here’s my heart Lord. Speak what is true.” I’ve re-read my notes from earlier in the year when I was walking through the same struggles, needing to relearn the goodness of God, the sovereignty of God, the trustworthiness of God. I’ve lived in the Psalms, the perfect place to learn how to walk through dark times. Seriously, if you’re struggling, read Psalms. You will learn how to give God all your feelings, even the ugly ones. You will re-learn that God cares, God is in control, God is good, God is just, God is our strength, God is our fortress, God is our rock, that with God we cannot be shaken. Our circumstances may fall apart, everything around us may be going wrong, nothing may make sense, but God is still all those things, and if you cling to Him you will not be destroyed.
Outside of the Psalms, another thing that has spoken truth into me is songs. One song that has spoken deeply to me is the song “King of my Heart”. Bethel music has one version of the song with spontaneous lyrics that has been on repeat for me. It has been more than a song but more of a fountain of truth I desperately need to hear.
One spontaneous part says,
“Somebody needs confidence this morning, that He’ll never let you down. He’s been God a long time. He knows what he’s doing. He knows what he’s doing in you. When you can’t see it, when you don’t believe it, He knows. He knows, and He doesn’t fall off of his throne, and He never will!”
And another part,
“Let confidence rise that He’s who He says He is. He’s good. He’s good. He’s good. He’s good. He’s good. Confidence! Let it rise!”
So when you’re ready, ask God to speak truth to your heart. He’ll do it. Sit back and listen.