Emotions and Image Bearers

| 27 April 2020

When one of my sons was very young I began to notice that he was wired to experience life with a very tender heart. He felt things deeply, whether great delight or great disappointment and sadness. Over the years, we had countless conversations about the place of emotions in our lives.

He sometimes wondered where God was in the midst of all he felt and wrestled with inside. I loved learning alongside him as we explored God’s character and how to navigate the realm of emotions with the Holy Spirit as our comforter, helper and guide.

Sadly, in the evangelical church, we have often been left with the impression that emotion is weakness, that somehow, being unemotional is a sign of being more spiritual. However, our ability to feel the full range of emotions that we experience in our lives comes from our being made in the image of God.

The writer of the book of Hebrews describes Jesus as our great high priest “who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Throughout the gospels we see Jesus expressing a complete range of emotions- joy, anger, sadness, delight and anguish. In him, we are given a living human example of what it is to feel the full weight of every emotion, and then to offer it in full submission to God.

When Jesus went to the cross, he went in all the fullness of his humanity, and in the fullness of his deity. In the garden of Gethsemane, he cried out to the Father out of his omniscience. He knew the pain that he would suffer, not only in his physical body, but also in the anguish of his soul in bearing the weight of our sin. Still, the depth of his love for us, compelled him to walk in obedience to what he knew, that in his dying he would save us and bring us life.

So while in his soul he was deeply grieved, he took that grief, and crying out to God, he submitted himself to the will of the Father.

With yet another week of sheltering in place, do you find yourself struggling with deep emotions, feelings of fear, doubt or frustration? Are you worried about how things will work out, or how they could even possibly turn out “for your good”? Find encouragement today in knowing that you can take every emotion, every feeling straight to our heavenly Father, without needing to hide from him in shame. Then trust in his perfect care for you, and dwell in knowing that he delights in having his children run to him for help and strength.

By Nicole Jiles
Director of Children’s Ministries

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