Emotion; March 20, 2022


Psalm 43:5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

I have seen jokes made about the Old Testament practice, common in Psalms, of addressing yourself, but it actually has a lot of validity. It requires a level of objectivity, and that is useful in just about every situation. Here, the Psalmist knows objectively that God is to be trusted, so he is deliberately taking command over his emotions. The ability to do that is definitely a sign of maturity! These days some people are insisting, or at least acting like, emotions are supreme, but that is to condemn yourself to miserable immaturity. It is the very opposite of what I wrote about yesterday, which is appropriate because Psalms 42 and 43 were in all probability originally one Psalm. Sometimes, of course, our emotions do overwhelm us, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Even Jesus wept! However, letting emotions be in the driver’s seat all the time robs us of stability and joy. As Dennis Prager has said, he’s never met a genuinely happy leftist! The inability to deal with differing opinions, even, is pathetic in the extreme. The Psalmist here takes the opposite tack, reassuring himself that God is totally reliable, because He is! That assurance can get us through just about anything.

As I wrote yesterday, I’ve had my battles with emotion, so I don’t write this flippantly or from a high horse. I am very aware that we are created as emotional beings, and everything God created is good, at least in its first iteration. Visiting mental hospitals, I have seen patients being treated for bipolar disorder who were essentially zombies, unable to feel much emotion at all, and it has been heartbreaking. That kind of chemical suppression of emotion is far too extreme, in my opinion. Chemical imbalances in the brain can indeed play havoc with our emotions, but eliminating all emotion is removing a big part of what it means to be human, I think. I am not to downplay emotion, in myself or in others, but I am not to let it take command. Whatever the factor, be it emotion or anything else, God is greater, and I must never forget that.

Father, thank you for this reminder. Thank you that recently positive emotions have been far more common than negative ones for me! Help me be grateful for the positive emotions, but not let them distract me from you either, rather keeping Jesus as Lord in every situation on every level, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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