Developing a Biblical Theology of Emotions

May 5, 2014

2014 BC in Canada Series--Developing a Biblical Theology of Emotions

2014 BC in Canada Series--Developing a Biblical Theology of Emotions

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the fourth in a BCC Grace & Truth blog series on Biblical Counseling in Canada. Each post will be by a biblical counselor in Canada, and either focus on the state and future of BC in Canada, or highlight an important theme that Canadian biblical counselors and all biblical counselors need to ponder.

In the Grasp of Grief

Grief will touch all of us, and often rattle our emotions with impromptu sadness from lives lost to unfortunate or even sinful atrocities. In October 2011, the town of Armstrong, part of British Columbia’s North Okanagan, was shaken with disillusionment and grief. CBC Radio stated:

“On Halloween night, something terrible happened on the tracks. An 18-year-old girl was killed. A dark shadow was cast on the town and on the stretch of railway running through it.”

Taylor Van Diest was found with marks around her neck consistent with strangulation. Her mom was on the scene crying out over her body, “Fight it. You are going to make it. You’re going to survive.”

Unfortunately, Taylor did not recover from the abuse and physical trauma she received that night. Even after the young man was convicted, the ripple effects caused by this trauma will continue to impact those involved. The community including the teenage schoolmates were interviewed in the award-winning documentary entitled “The Tracks” of Armstrong. (Here is the link to this story.)

In the Grip of Grace

Often when reflecting on the Psalms, I think through the emotions cycled through in our lives. These progressions can be filled with moments of grief, anger, and frustration. Mundane moments are inculcated with resounding loneliness. Spontaneous moments can be flooded with tears, as in the sad reflection of Taylor’s death in Armstrong.

God speaks into all these areas of our lives. I believe nestled in page after page of Scripture God is not distant, but close and near in presence and disposition to us.

In Psalms 23, God speaks of Himself as our Shepherd. God desires to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” with us. Our experience of deep darkness is not prevented by God, but in these moments God looks to restore our soul. The brokenness of our world is the result of Adam’s actions to sin and turn from God in the beginning (Genesis 3). As a result, we experience instances of fear and tears of sorrow.

Think about your experience of God as your Shepherd. Do you far too often walk away from this divine truth for a self-generated solution? Our lives can “seem” so out of control that we allow our emotions to preach a humanistic message to ourselves: “I need to shepherd this moment” or “I need to restore my soul.”

To achieve this we too easily run to medication, strive to manufacture perfect circumstances, and seek to drive out the influences bringing pain into our life. The Divine Shepherd, however, is not allowed to walk with us, to protect us, and guide us through those things.

Our Divine Counselor

In Psalm 32:8, God speaks of Himself as our Counselor. God initiates to “counsel you with [His] eye upon you.” Our Counselor has provided a written record of His direct guidance. The Scripture is the authoritative and sufficient source of counsel that speaks robustly and relevantly to all of our problems. In the times of our pain, we need a comforting arm and words of wisdom to guide us through the circumstance we face.

Have you ever cooked rice in a rice cooker? You pour the dry rice and water into the appliance, plug it in, and click the switch to turn on the heat. The water steams and infuses itself within the grains of rice. The rice becomes robust and saturated. This is what happens when we receive counsel. We mentally saturate our heart with either healthy or poisonous water. The counsel produces robustness in our lives corresponding to the quality possessed.

Think about your experience of God as your Counselor. Are you right now saturated with God’s counsel found in the Scripture? What amount of time do you intentionally ensure is spent with your Counselor each day?

God, may you open our eyes to our great need of you! Holy Spirit, bring to our remembrance the truth we know at the times when we need it. Jesus help us to preach a message to ourselves of redemption and grace.

Our Divine Comforter

In Psalm 56:8, God speaks of Himself as our Comforter. The Psalmist proclaims, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.” God is not capricious with His allocation of attention toward us. There is no erraticism to His care, love, and grace given to us. In our grief, pain, and loneliness, we need to hear this truth and rest in it. God’s presence and care is always near to us!

The psalm that says, “…where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! (Psalm 32:8)” This truth is not designed to create fear in us. This truth should be one that drives us to rest in peace, intimacy, and transparency with God. He gathers our pain that is expressed through tears, and carries them in a figurative bottle. He knows the storyline of our life from childhood to senior years. There is not a time when that bottle is dumped out. God does not close a chapter in our life story, and misplace the book.

Think about your experience of God as your Comforter. Are you right now trying to isolate yourself from God? How often do you pour your heart out to God, believing He hears and cares about you?

The Psalms teach us a biblical theology for handling our emotions. The truths are chronicled in the transparent moments of the God’s people. God wants us to be informed about His guidance, counsel, and comfort. He has designed the Scripture to robustly and practically help us navigate the circumstances of grief, anger, and loneliness. Today is the day to call out to God, and live in His powerful redemptive grace. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7-19).

Join the Conversation

How are you going to your Divine Counselor and Comforter to find His grace in the midst of your grief?

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