What did biblical men do with their emotions, and what can we learn from them?

We were created by God with emotions, and we see many characters in the bible who dealt with extreme emotions. Jeremiah, for example, was known as the weeping prophet. We read in Lamentations 2:10 that he says, I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken. God doesn’t shame him for these feelings, and He doesn’t expect Him to pull himself up by His bootstraps and just pull through. In fact, God is kind and gentle to Jeremiah, meeting him where he’s at. In 1 Kings 19, we see Jeremiah get to a point where he is so scared and overwhelmed he lays under a tree and prays to God to take his life. In verses 5-8, God sends an angel to minister to him, knowing just what he needs.

But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.
So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.”

God knew how he was feeling and knew he needed a rest and a good meal. He met him where he was and gently guided him back in the right direction. God gave him the strength for the rest of the journey.

Likewise, the great King David wrote many Psalms about all sorts of emotions he felt during his life. He wrote when he was anxious, depressed, overjoyed, afraid, and regretful. In Psalm 55:4-6 he wrote,

My heart pounds in my chest.

    The terror of death assaults me.

Fear and trembling overwhelm me,

    and I can’t stop shaking.

Oh, that I had wings like a dove;

    then I would fly away and rest!

Many people who have struggled with anxiety can relate to passages like these. In this Psalm, he is crying out to God, asking Him to hear his prayers and help him. 

A few verses later, in Psalm 55:16-17, David writes, 

But I will call on God,

    and the Lord will rescue me.

Morning, noon, and night

    I cry out in my distress,

    and the Lord hears my voice.”

The important thing about both of these men is that they turned toward God with these emotions. No matter what they were feeling or what circumstances they were in, they turned to God. They told Him they were afraid or depressed or anxious, asked Him to help, and waited for Him. Even if they couldn’t see God or feel God right then, they knew God was still Lord over their lives- even their brokenness, fears, and worries. 

Matthew 6:25-27 is an often-quoted verse in relation to anxiety.

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

You can trust God. He is good, kind, and faithful. He takes care of the birds in the sky, and He loves you so much more than that! Life can be overwhelming and scary, but we have a God who is always with us and caring for us. You can trust Him. You can give each of your worries to Him and ask Him to help you with every situation. Because of who God is, we don’t have to be afraid! We are no longer slaves to depression and fear. Even when we feel those things, we can choose to trust in God and His goodness. He won’t always do what we want, but He will always do what is best. When things get overwhelming, take a deep breath. Give it to God. Do that over and over until your emotions catch up. Remember how God has been faithful in the past; He is definitely not going to abandon you now. 

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