I am so grateful for the blessings of true friends – friendships that last over the years. Why do I count it as a blessing? These are the people who have stood by me through thick and thin, who aren’t fair weather friends to use me and chuck me out when not convenient or when they are uncomfortable with my emotional personality. This is one thing I struggle with – balancing emotions. I tend to speak as if I have a microphone attached to my throat when I get emotional, excited or angry. I can get irritated easily just as much as I can reach out empathetically to others.
All good things have a flip side I suppose. It is my desire and prayer that I get rooted deeper and deeper in God with the fruit of the Spirit being increasingly evident. How I long to speak not loudly but rather softly!! However, there are people who would condemn emotions as ‘sin’. They are very good at maintaining composure! Is that biblical or rather the way of a Christian?
We tend to view anger for example as a ‘sin’. However, anger is healthy if controlled – it shows that something isn’t right in life that needs to be set right. What we do in the anger is what makes it sin or not! Are we calling the other person names, are we hurting them with our words, are we condemning or belittling the other or are worse are we exerting harm on them physically as well as emotionally?
There is a danger of becoming complacent where there are no emotions involved or where emotions are suppressed. Our emotions often spur us to take action where there is wrong or hurt – to help us do something about it. Not doing what we are called to do is also sin! God requires of us to act justly – to seek justice and to be a voice for the voiceless. We need to be passionate to empathise and stand up.
On the other hand, we can indeed be misled by letting emotions go out of control. Moses got irritated with the Israelites grumbling, he called them “rebels” and instead of speaking to the rock as per the LORD’s request, Moses struck the rock with his staff – not just once but twice. He missed out on entering the Promised Land. The Lord told him,
“Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them” – Numbers 20:12
Yet, there are many biblical examples of emotions being correctly handled. We read of many Psalmists voicing out their emotions (pretty strong at times) but ending off with a positive note, with a surrendered heart in faith that God will turn their mourning into dancing or would give the strength to face the music.
Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you cannot understand at the time – Oswald Chambers
Habbakuk also ends his prophecy on a similar note:
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. – Habakkuk 3:16-18
Peter of course was very emotional as a person – I feel my personality resonates with him. He jumps to saying things that he can’t often follow through with as he was often moved emotionally. He wanted to protect Jesus and told Him that he couldn’t let Jesus go through with the trials that Jesus foretold them. Jesus responded with “Get behind me Satan” as He knew that Satan was using Peter. The very Peter that assured Jesus that he would never leave Him did indeed deny Him three times. Jesus of course re-instates him and gets him to repeat three times that he would indeed feed His sheep.
We read of many instances in Scriptures where Jesus got emotional – He got angry, He wept, He was moved with compassion etc. When He was moved with compassion, He intervened in the situations. When He realized the stubbornness of the people and thus what was to happen, He wept. In His anger He turned over the tables and used His whip when the people were turning His Father’s house into a den of robbers. On other occasions, Jesus confronted the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and self righteousness even going to the extent of addressing them as “brood of vipers” and “you hypocrites” etc. His emotions are obvious in the incident at the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested. It was a truly emotional scene. The 3 disciples fall asleep because of sorrow. We see Jesus pacing up and down, feeling anguish and sorrow to the point of death, sweat like blood that an angel had to strengthen Him. Yes, He wanted the cup of suffering taken away from Him but He surrendered His will to that of the Father so that the Father may be glorified and the Father’s will be done.
Both my body and my emotions were given to me, and it is as futile for me to condemn myself for feeling scared, insecure, selfish, or revengeful as it is for me to get mad at myself for the size of my feet. I am not responsible for my feelings but for what I do with them.- Hugh Prather
At the end of the day, faith isn’t the absence of fear or panic or doubt,
Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith – Paul Johannes Oskar Tillich
Rather it is about choosing to trust God to carry out His perfect plan despite the negative emotions and allowing God to strengthen us relying on His grace! Suppressing emotions to pretend to be highly spiritual people is actually a sin as acting / playing a part is embedded in the definition of sin and that is hypocrisy. In fact, it has negative consequences too:
We do not bury our emotions dead; they remain alive in our subconscious minds and intestines to hurt and trouble us – John Powell
If we were walking in the Spirit, we would be of the Light just as He is light. There will be no need to ‘hide’ and we will opt to be transparent. Emotions are created by God and just like with anything else, it is up to us how we use it.