Don’t Give Up the Battle

We can’t afford to give up or give in; so much is at stake.

Though hard and painful emotions are often distorted and exaggerate reality, they do tell us something, they tell us that something is wrong. They indicate that something is going on in our heart. They reflect our internal struggle with God. When we ignore them, try to control them, attempt to cover them up, or pretend they don’t exist; we miss the opportunities they provide— opportunities to learn more about God; opportunities for God to change and transform us; opportunities to grow in faith. When we give up the fight and don’t push through them, work through, learn from them, and grow through them, we miss out on what God is doing in the midst of them. And not engaging our emotions allows them to take over and rule our lives.

 

My kids are one belt away from earning their black belt in martial arts. One of the tasks they have to accomplish to before receiving the belt is to break a stack of four wooden boards with their hand. In a recent attempt, my youngest hit the boards over and over without success until the instructor said, “Why don’t you stop and try with three boards instead?”

“I want to keep trying,” my son responded.

He kept at it and finally broke the stack of four. The instructor then turned it into a lesson on perseverance for the rest of the class.

Painful Emotions

In my own life, I lack such perseverance in the face of hard and difficult things. When something becomes too painful or challenging, I give up. I resist pain and heartache and difficulty. If I see a trial looming ahead, I turn and go the other way. When it comes to painful emotions, I do all that I can to control, ignore, cover up, hide from, or resist those emotions. Anything but actually face them and work through them.

But it is in working through them that I learn more about God, who he is, and what he is doing in me.

Painful emotions, such as fear, worry, despair, loneliness, and rejection are emotions that weigh heavy on our heart. They pull us down and threaten to drown us. Some days, we can barely put one foot forward for the weight of them.

Though hard and painful emotions are often distorted and exaggerate reality, they do tell us something, they tell us that something is wrong. They indicate that something is going on in our heart. They reflect our internal struggle with God. When we ignore them, try to control them, attempt to cover them up, or pretend they don’t exist; we miss the opportunities they provide— opportunities to learn more about God; opportunities for God to change and transform us; opportunities to grow in faith. When we give up the fight and don’t push through them, work through, learn from them, and grow through them, we miss out on what God is doing in the midst of them. And not engaging our emotions allows them to take over and rule our lives.

The Psalms and the Battle with Emotions

No other book of the Bible speaks more to our emotions than the book of Psalms. These 150 poems give voice to the full spectrum of emotions we all feel in life. They reflect the joys and heartaches; the wonders and terrors; the safety and fear; the triumphs and failures; the love and rejection we all experience in this fallen world. Many of the Psalms speak specifically of the dark and painful emotions we encounter. They describe them in explicit detail, almost as though the psalmist can hear what is going in in our own heart. These are poems we often find ourselves turning to when life is hard and painful.

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