God created us with emotions because He delights in our worshipful appreciation of the beauty of who He is and how He will redeem. This means that, in the end, every emotion, even every dark one, is an opportunity to engage with Him and “pour out [our] heart[s] before him” as our act of trust (Ps. 62:8). He who invites you to approach Him boldly has promised to receive you tenderly, so cast your anxieties—and your guilts, joys, griefs, shames, and sorrows—on Him.
God has not put enmity between truth and emotions. Instead, the two are intended to reinforce each other so that we might not only know but passionately pursue what is good, lovely, and honoring to God. All too often, however, we do experience hostility between what we feel and what we know to be true.
It doesn’t help that twenty-first-century Western culture fiercely encourages us to follow our feelings in opposition to obvious truths. We are surrounded by the narrative that your feelings are the most important thing about you. It is constantly implied that experiencing emotional fulfillment by either embracing what you feel or by changing your feelings until you are satisfied with them is the core human hope. That said, the backlash against this emotions-are-everything mind-set from both secular and Christian quarters tends toward a stoic war against emotions that bears little resemblance to the biblical truth in places such as the Psalms, the Prophets, and the garden of Gethsemane.
What, then, is the biblical truth of emotions? The Bible tells us that human emotions are the overflow of our loving and treasuring. They are the response of our hearts to what we care about most deeply. In themselves, they are neither righteous nor wicked, neither good nor bad. Instead, our emotions alert us to the godliness of our loves themselves. Thus, if you love and treasure your children, you’ll rejoice when they succeed in art or sport, feel anxious when they are out late, become angry when they are mistreated by schoolmates. If you don’t love them, you won’t smile when they grow in the Lord, you’ll sleep easy when they are struggling, and you’ll refuse to be bothered when they are harmed by a sibling. In all the places “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).
Put most simply: what you care about shapes what you feel. Emotions, you see, are designed by God to enhance truth and bring it to life.