by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:5-6a ESV
I am not always okay these days. There are moments when I feel connected with Jesus, engaged with work, on-top of the pandemic situation, and prayerful.
Then, there are the other moments.
Emotions swell within me that are unpleasant and occasionally overwhelming. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. Fear.
Not one of these feelings changes the truth of the gospel in my life, my foundational belief in Scripture, or my trust that God will work all this together for good for those who love Him, and yet, it doesn’t always feel okay to tell other Christians when I’m not okay.
I know it is fine to not be okay because I read the Bible. Jeremiah, Moses, Paul, Job, and even Jesus had moments when they were not feeling okay about their situations. We have recorded the times when they expressed these feelings to God in prayer. And, yet, we struggle to hear these same emotions from other believers without immediately responding with a Bible verse or Christian cliché designed to “fix” our friend’s mood.
The Psalms don’t do that. The Psalms remind us God designed us with a full emotional palette, not all of them pleasant. Better yet, we know the Psalms – in all their raw, emotional, transparent, theologically sound resonance – are blessed by God as holy Scripture and we find this more assuring than the rapid religious prescriptions too often doled out by our well-intentioned Christian friends.
Is it possible that David, a man of ancient times, was more willing than our modern cohorts to also honor the truth of his experience as a human being living in a fallen world? I believe David’s faith in God’s character was so rich and full that he could risk being fully human in front of God. God rejects our sin, but He does not reject our humanity. He created us and knows our design better than we do.
The shocking truth is that as much as our society understands about feelings, many Christians still feel more comfortable turning to a dead Psalmist for comfort than they do one another. We have Scriptural evidence that we should be accessing support from both.
Of course, we want to encourage one another with God’s Word, to fortify our hearts with truth, and to inspire one another to hope. We do this by honoring the truth of Jesus Christ and clinging to that as the final word on all our situations.
But the pathway for most us to pinning our emotions to that truth is to bushwhack through the whole truth of what we’re feeling and experiencing. We need to honor our own humanity by honestly speaking the truth when we’re not okay, to express it and explore it before God (and often another mature believer) and only then restate the truth of Christ to which we cling. This is the pattern of most of the Psalms.
We can be living Psalms by being willing to be authentic with one another at the same time we state God’s truth. By honoring our humanity as we honor the unchanging truth of Jesus Christ, we deliver the whole truth and grow deeper in relationship to God and to one another.
About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four
encouraging, unsettling books. Her first is Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) and her latest is The Art of Hard Conversations. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.
Join the conversation: What encouragement have you received during the covid crisis?