Five Things the Psalms of Lament Teach Us About Emotions

God's Word has a lot to say about our emotions

“The Psalms of Lament are a rich resource for learning about our emotions and how God desires for us to express, address, grow, and learn from them. The laments are those psalms in which the psalmist expresses the deep pains and heartaches of life. They are the psalms where the writer cries out to God.”

 

I am an emotional person; it doesn’t take much for me to cry. No matter how many times I see one of those heartwarming commercials about family or veterans returning home or babies laughing, I cry. Songs make me cry. Greeting cards make me cry. Memories make me cry.

Having my emotions so close to the surface makes me empathetic to others, which is a good thing. It helps me extend kindness and compassion to those who are hurting. But being emotional also means that my emotions often take the reins and rule my days. Especially dark and painful ones. They consume my energy, direct my decisions, and rob me of joy. In addition, my emotions are not always honest with me. They exaggerate things. They make me think that my circumstances are worse than they really are.

That’s where being emotional gets me into trouble.

A Guidebook for Emotions

Can you relate? If you’re emotional like I am, there is good news. We’re not left alone without any help or guidance. In fact, God’s Word has a lot to say about our emotions. The Psalms of Lament are a rich resource for learning about our emotions and how God desires for us to express, address, grow, and learn from them. The laments are those psalms in which the psalmist expresses the deep pains and heartaches of life. They are the psalms where the writer cries out to God about hard emotions as sorrow, fear, grief, and abandonment. In reading the Psalms of Lament, we can learn how to face our own emotions.

Here are five things the Psalms teach us about our emotions:

1. We are not alone in our emotions.

John Calvin described the book of Psalms as “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” The Psalms mirror the emotions we all face in this fallen world, and the Psalms of Lament in particular express the darkest ones we experience—fear, despair, abandonment, shame, rejection, and grief. When we read the laments, we see that we are not alone in our feelings. On our hardest days, we can open God’s Word and see that the psalmist felt the same pain.

I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping (Ps. 6:6).

2. God wants us to come to Him with our emotions.

The next thing we can learn from the laments is that God desires for us to come to Him with our emotions. All of them. Even the deep, dark, raw, and painful ones.

The Psalms were the songbook for God’s people. The Israelites sang these Psalms the same way we sing our hymns on Sunday morning. They sang to God of their fear and despair, their shame and grief. This shows us that our God is gracious. He doesn’t expect us to wipe away our tears and pretend that everything’s okay when we come before Him. Rather, we need to come to Him exactly as we are and lay our burdens at His feet.

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you (Ps. 38:9).

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