Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
One of the things that keeps us from being bold is the misconception that we have to be perfect. We fake it pretending to have our lives in order, smiling and saying all the right things. When we’re born again, God forgives us and sees us as righteous. I’m sure that each of us has been hesitant to say what we really thought, felt, needed, or longed for. It's at those times we need to open up but it’s hard to do unless you are in close a relationship, and in order to become close you have to be vulnerable. So if we want our prayer lives to go beyond where they are now we are going to have to risk opening up to our friend, God.
Be careful not to cover up your emotions in order to look like a “good Christian.” Without becoming open we are unable to rely fully on God. When we realize this we can passionately seek Him, obey in His strength, and confess with repentance, when we miss the mark.
We can look to Jesus as our example of being open. He permitted Himself to express a full range of emotions, positive ones like joy, love, and compassion and some we would consider negative like, anger, indignation, and impatience.
Jesus didn’t ignore His emotions or keep them hidden, He shared Himself openly. I think we should also be open with Him.
That’s not alway easy though. It’s easy to talk about expressing joy, but in real life we struggle with sin, injustice, pain, and temptation. These thing arouse feelings that aren’t comfortable. It seems riskier to be honest to when we feel isolated, guilty, irritated, intimidated, ashamed, angry, inadequate, rejected, or worthless.
Don't worry God can handle it.
Don’t Give Up: Tell God Exactly How You Feel
By Rick Warren
“I can’t be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak” (Job 7:11 GNT).
God can handle your emotions — he gave them to you, after all! He can handle your anger, doubt, fear, questions, grief, and even your complaints. Be honest; tell it to God. Get it off your shoulders. Spill your guts! Tell God exactly how you feel: “God, I hurt!” This is exactly what Job did.
Job was brutally honest with God: “I can’t be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak” (Job 7:11 GNT). He continued to unload in the verses that follow: “Why do you keep me under guard? Do you think I am a sea monster? I lie down and try to rest; I look for relief from my pain. But you — you terrify me with dreams; you send me visions and nightmares until I would rather be strangled than live in this miserable body. I give up; I am tired of living. Leave me alone. My life makes no sense. Why are people so important to you? Why pay attention to what they do? You inspect them every morning and test them every minute. Won’t you look away long enough for me to swallow my spit? Are you harmed by my sin, you jailer?” (Job 7:12-20 GNT).
If you were God, how would you react to that? Maybe get angry? Is that what God did? No! Because God understood Job. God understands you, too, and he understands your hurt. God isn’t surprised when you say, “God, I don’t like this. This stinks. It hurts!” Who do you think created those emotions? Who do you think gave you the capacity to get angry and express those feelings? God did. God is not surprised by your emotional state.
God let Job get it off his chest. It was a catharsis, a kind of cleansing so that Job could get clean and be healed.
The right response to unexplained tragedy is not “grin and bear it” or pious platitudes but honestly telling God your struggle. Lamentations 2:19 says, “Cry out in the night . . . Pour out your heart like water in prayer to the Lord” (NCV).
Job questioned God’s actions, but he never stopped trusting God. Did you know that trusting God with your feelings is an act of worship? “Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20 GW).
Go ahead. Express all your feelings. Release your frustrations. God can handle it!
By Cindi McMenamin
(All Bold Mine)
Several years ago, I heard a wise person pray, “Break my heart, God, with what breaks Yours.” I’ve never forgotten that prayer request. And through the years I’ve often wondered if my emotions line up with God’s.
Do I get upset at the same situations that angered the heart of God or do I spend time and energy protesting what Jesus wouldn’t have bothered with? On the other end of the emotional spectrum, do I turn a blind eye at what moved Jesus to tears or fail to notice the people and situations that stirred His compassionate heart and caused Him to take action?
Jesus, God in the flesh, experienced a wide range of emotions during his 33 years on this earth. Scripture tells us what He felt and experienced, specifically, during his three-year public ministry. And while we might tend to think that being unemotional means being more spiritual or Spirit-controlled, Scripture clearly shows that Jesus exercised a healthy amount of emotion and self-control.
Here are 10 emotions Jesus expressed so you can see if your feelings and responses line up with His:
1. Joy–at pleasing His Father.
While Jesus is often referred to as “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”
Isaiah 53:3 (NLT2)3 He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
He was also one who knew joy.
John 15:10-11 (NLT2)10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.
Yes, your joy will overflow!Jesus told His followers if they keep His commandments, they will abide in His love just as He has kept His Father’s commandments and abides in His Father’s love. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full,” Jesus said. What joy was Jesus referring to? The joy that came from complete obedience to His Father. The joy that came from fulfilling His mission here on earth. The joy that came from pleasing His Father in Heaven.
Hebrews 12:2 (NLT2)2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
How can the word “joy” exist in the same sentence as the words “enduring the cross” and “scorning its shame”? Because Jesus knew not only the joy of complete obedience to His Father, but the joy of what was to come – the eternal reward, being reunited physically with His Father in Heaven, having secured for eternity the salvation of all who would believe.
Do you find delight in pleasant circumstances or knowing that all is well in your world? Or do you know deep joy by focusing on the eternal rewards of obedience to your Heavenly Father, sensing His smile as you surrender daily, and fixing your minds on what is to come
Colossians 3:2 (NLT2)2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
2. Exhaustion–from the demands of ministry.
Do you ever start to think I can’t face any more people or pressures right now? Do you find that to cope you need to slip away and have some quiet time to yourself? If you feel that way after trying to be all things to all people, then you need boundaries in your life and work and a reminder that you are not responsible for everything. But if you’re feeling that exhaustion and overwhelm because of a continual pouring out in ministry, Jesus did too. Even the Son of God had to withdraw by Himself from the crowds after an extended time of ministry in order to refuel and re-energize through rest and quiet communion with His Father
Matthew 14:13 (NLT2)13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns.
Mark 6:31 (NLT2)31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
When you need to get away from people, is it because you’re tired of them? Or is it because you long to be with Your Father to refuel, refocus, and reprioritize? You can identify with the heart of Jesus when you pull away now and then to rest in and commune quietly with your Heavenly Father.
3. Anger–at the hypocrisy of the religious.
Instead of being angry with sinners and how they lived, Jesus was indignant toward the so-called “religious” who touted a spotless image on the outside, but cultivated critical, hardened hearts on the inside. Jesus used harsh words toward the religious elite of his day saying things like,
Matthew 23:31-33 (NLT2)31 “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.32 Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started.33 Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?
I’m thinking that might have been the equivalent of cussing today.
Jesus’ anger with how the religious leaders of his day spiritually oppressed others echoes God’s disdain for Israel’s “shepherds” in Ezekiel 34. Jesus even described false prophets as those who come in sheep’s clothing “but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”
Matthew 7:15 (NLT2)15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.
Do you feel anger toward leaders in the church and religious community who abuse their power, care more about their own comfort and image than that of other believers, and “fleece the flock” in the name of service to God? Are you enraged by anyone who would, in the name of Christ or spirituality, lead other believers astray or interfere with the discipleship and growth of a new believer? Do you loathe legalism to the point of calling it what it is? Jesus did. And He made no apologies for such.
Jesus was absolutely indignant toward the money changers in the temple. Not because “you shouldn’t sell stuff in church.” Not because “the church had become a marketplace” (as you may have heard while growing up in Sunday School). But because the religious leaders were financially oppressing and even cheating those who wished to honor God through a sacrifice in the temple. Their unlawful money-changing and price-fixing tactics in the Court of the Gentiles prevented non-Jews from honoring God with sacrifices. Their actions were downright racist and Jesus was disgusted with it. (See upcoming post “God Is Definitely Not A Racist)
John 2:13-17 (NLT2)13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”
This exclusion, racism, and profiteering from the good intentions of others enraged Jesus into pulling an Indiana Jones-style cleanup act in the temple, complete with a handmade whip. Sharp words weren’t cutting it anymore. This time He overturned tables, threw chairs across the room, and left the place a decimated mess! Emotional? You bet. Out of control? No. More like unbridled righteous anger and zeal for the house of God that consumed Him.
Psalm 69:9 (NLT2)9 Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
Does oppression of the poor, exclusivity in worship, unethical handling of the church finances, or an attitude of racism in the church provoke that kind of disgust in you? Perhaps it should.
5. Sorrow–at the ravages of sin and death.
When Jesus’ close friend Lazarus died and his sister Mary said those words wrought with disappointment, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32), Jesus evidently felt sorrow. Certainly, Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and that is why He let him die and remain in a tomb for four days (John 11:4-7, 14). Yet we read that, “When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” and “Jesus wept.” (verses 33-35). For Mary? At the thought that He disappointed her? For the loss of Lazarus?
Jesus saw the ravaging result of sin and He knew better than anyone that death was not a natural part of life, but the most unnatural thing anyone created in the image of God has to experience. It wasn’t God’s perfect plan. And coming face to face with the agony that humans experience from the sting of death moved Him to weep. Shortly thereafter, Jesus fulfilled His purpose for coming to this earth by dying on a cross to eradicate the sting of death and rising from the dead to conquer the grave.
1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (NLT2)54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Does the loss of a loved one, believer or not, move you to tears? Do you hold within you an ache for someone who has been ripped from your life? While we have the hope and assurance that those who are trusting Jesus alone for their salvation will live eternally, the temporary separation caused by death still grieves the heart of God.
Psalm 116:15 (NLT2)15 The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die.
If losing someone through death moves you to tears, it moved the Son of God to tears, too.
6. Compassion–for the lost and downtrodden.
I used to be critical of unbelievers who lived an ungodly lifestyle. Those who found themselves living on the streets were there because they had rejected Christ and made a series of bad choices, resulting in burned bridges and a lack of relationships, I concluded. Yet, Jesus had compassion on those who were suffering, whether it was from physical ailments;
Matthew 9:20-21 (NLT2)20 Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,21 for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”
or the direct result of sin
John 9:1-3 (NLT2)1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
Regardless of how they got where they did, Jesus saw people as created in the image of God and showed compassion on them–even the dirty, disfigured, leprous, rebellious, contagious, and forgotten.
When you see someone who is living with the consequences of their sin does it make you cringe or cry? Is your heart moved to pray for that person’s relief, healing, comfort, and salvation? Is your compassion strong enough to cause your hand to extend in action, help, or hope for another? That’s what Jesus would do.
7. Frustration–at slow learners and their lack of faith.
In Matthew 17, when a man brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus, claiming Jesus’ disciples couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus’ harsh words were evidence of his growing frustration with people who had seen all the signs and should’ve known better than to doubt who He was: “‘You unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.’ Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment” (verses 14-20).
Jesus also expressed frustration at His own disciples who just didn’t get it. After teaching earlier in the day about the Kingdom of God and growing in faith, Jesus was awoken from a sound sleep by his disciples who were accusing Him of not caring if they drowned in a storm that was threatening to overturn their boat. Jesus responded by commanding the wind and waves to “Be still.” He then turned to His followers, in apparent frustration, and asked, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41).
While you are following God’s command to disciple young believers, you can rest assured that Jesus understands your frustration when someone has been taught in the Word of God and given the best instruction available and still can’t apply their faith in a stressful situation.
8. Agony–at impending suffering.
When Jesus sweat blood and tears in the Garden of Gethsemane just before being arrested, it wasn’t out of fear of what was to come. It was more like agony, knowing He would bear the sins of the world on His shoulders, knowing He would endure the temporary separation from His Father’s enabling. And that caused Jesus to pray so intently, and in such agony, that He sweat blood and tears as He prayed: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…” In His humanity, He dreaded what was to come. But in His faith and pure obedience to His Father, His agony made for surrender: “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Do you dread an upcoming surgery? A chemotherapy session? A trial or interview in which you must revisit something painful or distressing? Jesus understands. Hebrews 4:15 assures us we have a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, and has not only “been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” but has also endured more suffering than we will ever have to experience ourselves.
9. Empathy–for the pain of others.
We have no record of Jesus feeling sorry for Himself or dwelling on any of His personal suffering. For instance, He didn’t talk for months about that trying time with the devil in the desert (John 4:1-11) or constantly put down the people whom He served who left Him once the handouts stopped. He didn’t rouse up personal support from His disciples after Judas betrayed Him. Instead, Jesus was empathetic toward others and the physical and emotional pain they were experiencing.
As much as Jesus suffered physically through His arrest, torture, and crucifixion, His heart and mind was on the emotional pain His mother was experiencing as she witnessed the torture and death of her firstborn son. Her care and provision, after His death, was paramount on His mind.
John 19:25-27 (NLT2)25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
Do you hurt along with others when they hurt physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Jesus never minimized anyone’s pain, compared it to someone else’s, or told someone “don’t cry.” He hurt along with them.
10. Forgiveness–in the face of betrayal.
Prior to being arrested, Jesus told His disciples that all of them would fall away that night because of Him.
Matthew 26:31 (NLT2)31 On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
They essentially deserted Him during His darkest hour even though just hours earlier at dinner they had each claimed they would never leave His side. Yet, Jesus extended grace toward all of them after rising from the dead. He even made sure that he reiterated His love for Peter three times – the same number of times Peter denied His love and even knowledge of Jesus!
Jesus commanded us to be different from the world by loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.
Matthew 5:43-44 (NLT2)43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
How much more difficult it is to love and forgive someone who at one time confessed their love for us and then betrayed us? Can you extend grace, love, and forgiveness even to those who have wronged you in a very personal way? When you do, you are expressing the same love, grace, and forgiveness that Jesus showed.
Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their walk with God and their relationships.