A few years ago I discovered how rich the Psalms are. It was during a time of great darkness in my life when I saw firsthand how “God’s sweetness met my suffering,” to quote John Piper.
I dug deep into this book, wanting to just create a little reference-type journal of the most succinct summary of each psalm. I wanted a go-to list of verses to meditate on during this season of great pressure (I share about this trying season in my video of A Mother/Daughter’s Journey Through Suffering). I also wanted the journal to serve as a reference guide to use in comforting and encouraging others, matching their situation with verses to meet their specific emotional state.
As I journeyed my way through Psalms, I saw an unexpected pattern and adjusted what I was making note of in my chapter by chapter summary.
These psalmists told God directly how they were feeling, letting it flow from their hearts. They didn’t hold back. I wondered if God was okay with such bold, seemingly irreverent communication where emotions were vented at Him. I had known there were a few psalms that showed the transformation from being angry at God to praising God, but certainly didn’t realize the vast emotions recorded all over this book. I wanted to see just what the results were when the psalmist exposed his vulnerable heart to God.
Every Human Emotion Recorded as a Gift
I became intentional to see the turnaround in the psalmist’s heart within the context of a single chapter. I discovered that every human emotion seemed to be on display for us to see, as a gift from God, as if He were showing us the blueprint for handling the emotions that He knows we have. He longs to have us commune with Him – on the deepest of levels.
This pattern of crying out to God and exposing the depth of our heart and hurt, telling Him exactly how we feel – in a context where we are real, transparent, vulnerable before Him, and even angry or questioning seemed to be okay…in fact, desired.
The psalmist would empty his heart, then a transformation would begin to take place. This process of crying out, then laying down all burdens and releasing emotions, would then tranform into recalling attributes of God with great confidence. This would end with trust and praise to our mighty and sovereign God.
Think about that.. releasing anger, bitterness, hatred, fear, desire for revenge, plotting evil, anxiety, needing release, being overwhelmed…great mourning, anguish, depths of despair…taking it all directly to our God…and Him meeting the very need of our heart…
And experiencing something beautiful.
A Turnaround of the Heart
Here are a few examples:
• Psalm 22 – turnaround from lament to praise
• Psalm 30– turnaround from independent to dependent on God; from mourning to dancing; from fear to confidence
• Psalm 31 – turnaround from anguish to assurance; from desire for revenge to trusting God’s sovereignty; from vengeance to trusting God’s way
• Psalm 35 – turnaround from complaint about the situation to prayer to waiting to praise; from revenge to praise; from vindication to praise
• Psalm 51 – turnaround from personal collapse under guilt to forgiveness; from guilt to restoration to true joy; from guilt to singing aloud of God’s righteousness; from guilt to restoration to using life to teach others
And God chose to show us these emotions and this pattern in Psalms. We have a blueprint for handling our emotions. We don’t need to beat a chair, repay evil to the one who wronged us, allow bitterness to take root, or stuff in our emotions until our health declines. We can and should go directly to our Heavenly Father, laying our exposed hearts before Him, telling Him every emotion we have, and experiencing His sweetness meeting us in our suffering. We will understand more fully a beautiful, intimate relationship with Him as He turns around our heart in total trust in Him.