This article was written by Tracy Deis.
Ah, emotions: the roller coaster of life! No matter how hard we try, we can’t completely control them or even understand them. But God can.
We often separate our emotions from our spiritual life. We try to go it alone and wrestle the tears and worry with our own hands. But God has given us a great artillery in Himself. Here are 15 terms taken from the pages of Scripture that explain how God is with us through all the twists and turns of our emotions.
When the Bible talks about blessing someone, it generally means giving good things that result in a state of happiness. Sometimes these blessings are material possessions, but more often they are intangible gifts such as love, faith and peace. Our blessings include peace and a unique, intimate relationship with God (Psalm 29:11). It is now our job to bless the nations by telling them the Good News of the death and resurrection of Christ. The gospel is meant to be a blessing for all people.
For the most part, broken means useless until repaired. Yet because God can work all things together for good (Romans 8:28), even broken things have value. For instance, proud people sometimes need to be broken, or humbled, before they realize they need to change. It’s encouraging to know that God takes broken hearts and spirits and gently mends, heals and shapes them.
Worries, or burdens, weigh heavily on our hearts, often making it difficult to enjoy each new day. God knows this, so in his great love, he lifts our burdens. He tells us to bring our burdens to him so he can carry them (Matthew 11:28). Does that mean he takes away all our trials? No, he often uses trials to build our character and our hope (Romans 5:3–5). Though we each have our own burdens in life, God instructs us to bear each other’s burdens as well and in this way be like Christ (Galatians 6:2).
When God cleans us, we’re clean all the way through to the depths of our being. As part of his forgiveness, God cleanses us from all our sin (1 John 1:9) and declares that, as far as he is concerned, we are now as white as snow. Both our sin and our guilt are gone and we are free.
We wouldn’t know what comfort is if we had never had run-ins with pain. If we never experienced sadness, we wouldn’t recognize happiness. Yet we’d all choose happiness; we’d all choose comfort. Sometimes God takes us out of our “comfort zones” to build our character (Romans 5:3–5) and give us new skills. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy for us. That’s why God promises to comfort us. He knows when we’re hurting; he even records every tear (see Psalm 56:8). Sometimes we are forced to deal with problems. Sometimes we may be called to sympathize with others who are grieving or needy. God is always there to be our great comforter as we live as ambassadors of his name and grace (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). We can bring his comfort to the deprived world and to our neighbors and friends who don’t know him.
You have no idea what to do. You need advice. You need some counsel. Now what? God gives several avenues for counsel. First, he gives himself. Jesus Christ is called the “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6). We can— and should—bring all our questions and problems to him. He promises to give wisdom every time we ask for it (James 1:5–6). He may provide that wisdom through the Bible (Psalm 119:24), through circumstances (as he did with Jonah) or through other people. God encourages us to seek counselors (see Proverbs 15:22), but he cautions us to choose our counselors carefully (Psalm 1:1-2). If you ask for advice from someone who isn’t following God, there’s a good chance that the counsel won’t fit with God’s ways.
Courage isn’t only for heroes; it’s just more evident in their reactions to threatening situations. Sometimes it takes courage to simply get up in the morning. It takes courage to look our parents or our mates in the face and tell them that we’ve messed up. It even takes courage to love someone, to continually offer oneself as a companion through thick and thin. Because we have Jesus Christ behind us—all his love, power and wisdom—we can afford to be brave. For Christians, this life is about living in God’s strength (2 Peter 1:3–4). Don’t forget that God is on our side. Who can be against us when we have that kind of backup? In any doubtful or opposing situation, we’ve got the upper hand. Sometimes we lose courage because we can’t see the outcome of whatever is in front of us. But we can take courage in knowing that God never leaves us to our own devices. “Be strong and courageous . . . for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6,).
The Bible tells us that the only thing people deserve from God is punishment because all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). We have access to eternal life only because God chose to give it to us. We can’t earn salvation. Instead, God offers eternal life as a free gift (see 6:23). Grace—it’s one of the most beautiful words in the Bible. Here’s a helpful acronym: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Our eternal riches in heaven—and every good thing we have or will receive—are an undeserved gift from God. God’s grace is evident in his mercy. He often delays punishment in order to give us time to turn to him. Other qualities closely related to God’s grace are his unconditional love, kindness, patience and forgiveness.
Grief is a natural reaction to change and loss. We begin to understand the fragility of life in times of deep sorrow—when loved ones die, when close friends endure pain, when accidents and atrocities befall us or those we care about. In our anguish, we often try to distract ourselves with work, play, chocolate, sleep, other people. These things are not bad, but nothing and no one can
ease our pain except God. He alone enables us to confront our grief because Jesus took it all on himself when he died on the cross. He alone gives true comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Christians are never without hope. God has promised never to leave us. He has joy stored up for us, even as we wait for our grief to pass.
Our culture says, “Believe in yourself! Assert yourself!” But we should not be surprised to learn that the Bible tells us to do exactly the opposite of what the world advocates. We read over and over in the Bible that God pulls down those who exalt themselves and lifts up those who are humble. Humility communicates a number of concepts in the Bible, but perhaps the most significant is the attitude of submission and servanthood that Jesus himself displayed and that we are to imitate (Philippians 2:5-8). God’s power and authority should inspire us to yield our will to his superior plan for our live whenever we approach him, but especially when we know we have sinned.
You may know a few people you would call happy, but how many people do you know who are truly joyful? There’s nothing wrong with being happy, but it more or less depends on the outcome of certain circumstances; it is largely defined by “good fortune.” Joy is choosing to be glad and at peace despite the situation, even when it is negative. Joy is God’s very nature— something we are because God dwells within us. Joy is a depth of everlasting satisfaction that comes from the Lord. When we are in step with the Holy Spirit, the attitude of our lives is characterized by joy (Colossians 3:16). Because we belong to God, we can rejoice even during the tough times—not because things always work out the way we want, but because our future is in the hand of the one who loves us and takes great joy in us.
It’s impossible to build perseverance or character without struggles and suffering. Hard times help us learn; they stretch and challenge us. Our perspective on trials can be positive or negative, and it ultimately affects the outcome of our hardship. When we are confronted by a trial and realize our limitations, God is glorified (2 Corinthians 12:10). We learn to rely on him and give our worries to him, realizing our total dependence on our heavenly Father. When our lives are easy, we can lose sight of how greatly we need God. God never leaves us during our hard times; he gives us the endurance and faith necessary to match our trials. He has plans for our growth and victory, not for our defeat.
Worry is the enemy of faith, hope and love. The Bible tells us not to worry because God loves us, and he can be trusted to run the universe. He is always working for our good in every situation, even in those situations that seem to be working against us. When we worry, we consider and examine our problem from every angle but God’s—until we’ve exhausted the subject and ourselves. Excessive worry demonstrates a preoccupation with material things and worldly events that distract us from what God considers important: trusting him (Matthew 6:25- 34). God knows what we need before we even ask him to provide (Matthew 6:8). We can concern ourselves with the things that will advance his kingdom and leave the rest up to him. He’ll take care of it—often in a way that far surpasses what we could have imagined!
When you are so moved, that you can hardly sit still; you just want to go out and do something— that’s zeal. As with all positive attributes, God is also our model for zeal. It is because of his zeal for righteousness that God must punish sin. It is because of God’s passionate love for people that he made the ultimate sacrifice to draw us to himself. We should have the same unquenchable drive for the things that God desires (Romans 12:11). We need to be sure, however, that our zeal is not misdirected. If we are faithful in studying God’s Word and letting his Spirit interpret it for us, God will give us a passion for the things he loves.