How God’s Love Can Help Me With My Emotions

How God’s Love Can Help Me With My Emotions August 30, 2018

How God’s Love Can Help Me With My Emotions

How God’s Love Can Help Me With My Emotions

John 11:28-44

God’s love is designed to help us with our emotions. The reason is that emotions reveal and amplify the character of a Christian. Most psychologists agree that there are four major emotions: fear, grief, anger, and joy. These four basic emotions may express themselves in different ways, forms, and varieties. This is the reason why some psychologists will say that there are eight, or sixteen emotions. They are just expressions of the four basic emotions. The Bible shows Jesus experiencing these four basic emotions during his difficult time dealing with the death of his friend Lazarus.

THE FOUR BASIC EMOTIONS

1. Afraid – Fear

2. Sad – Grief

3. Mad – Anger

4. Glad – Joy

There are some truths that we learn here about emotions. I want to share with you these truths and I hope that they will inspire you as you walk through your emotions with Jesus.

TRUTHS ABOUT EMOTIONS

1. God gave us emotions. Jesus expresses them perfectly.

When God created us, He gave us the capacity for emotions. We may not understand them, but we were created with them. The Bible is full of people who have expressed emotions. The difference is that Jesus expressed emotions perfectly. By that, I mean that He never let His emotions cause Him to sin. So we have to keep our emotions in check in such a way that we don’t let them cause us to sin.

2. When properly used, my emotions help me deal with life.

As we will see here in this story, when we encounter challenging situations in life, my emotions can help me deal with life. Our emotions can help me express myself in such a way that I can cope with the stresses of life. When someone is stressed, emotions are there to help us deal with that stress. The challenge is to allow God to help me use my emotions to help me.

3. Jesus walks with me through my emotions.

Jesus is there. Just as He is here with Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus, Jesus with you when you encounter challenging situations. Jesus can help you when you experience your emotions.

4. The end result of my emotional expressions should lead to joy.

Joy is an extension of love. When Jesus walks with us through our emotions, we will eventually get to joy. Heaven is full of love and joy there. Hell is full of fear, sadness, and hate. For the Christian, the final emotion we will express in Heaven is joy. Therefore, the end result of my emotional expressions should lead to joy.

Jesus experiences all four of these emotions in John 11. Since Jesus has experienced every kind of temptation and never sinned.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, CSB)

Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses. Our weaknesses are expressed through emotions. I want to share with you for the next five weeks about dealing with our emotions. In identifying my emotions, I want also to show how God’s love can help me use these emotions in a way that helps me.

How can Jesus sympathize with my emotions? How can He sympathize with me when I am going through an emotional rollercoaster? Jesus went through an experience that was emotionally challenging. He experienced all of the basic emotions in one tell-tale experience – the raising of Lazarus from the dead. I want to show how God’s love helped Jesus. God’s love can help me with my emotions because He expressed them as well.

HOW GOD’S LOVE HELPS ME EXPRESS MY EMOTIONS

God’s love can help me overcome my fear (John 11:33)

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled.” (John 11:33, CSB)

Jesus expresses God’s love here by sharing in the fear of His friends. Here, Jesus is “troubled.” To be troubled is to be “mentally distressed.” The word comes up two more times in John’s Gospels. In each case, it deals with the fear of death.

““Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour.” (John 12:27, CSB)

When Jesus had said this, he was troubled in his spirit and testified, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”” (John 13:21, CSB)

Scholars debate whether this emotion is reflexive or passive. It is not anger, because Jesus just expressed that earlier in the same verse “deeply moved”. It’s not sadness, nor joy because He will express those later. What is Jesus experiencing?

Jesus loves His friends. But He stays for two days. “Then after that,” He decides to go to Judea.

Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was. Then after that, he said to the disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”” (John 11:5–7, CSB)

Why the hesitation? I think Jesus is contemplating His upcoming death. You may say that Jesus just waited so that Lazarus was dead for four days to really prove that He is dead. But really, I don’t think this is a theological exercise for Jesus. It isn’t for you. If someone is sick and could die, you would want to be there as soon as possible. But don’t you go through a lot of emotional turmoil while you wait for that person who is sick? I think we need to recognize that Jesus was going through that.

John states that Jesus loves Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. He is deeply moved by the death of Lazarus. This love moves Jesus with emotion. I think Jesus is processing this death and dealing with it.

Jesus overcomes this fear of death with confidence here. Because He can raise someone else to life. That will be nothing compared to the faith that He will need in His own Heavenly Father to raise Himself to life.

I believe that Mary and Martha are also walking through this fear and that they shared that fear with Jesus.

Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” (John 11:21, CSB)

This fear is followed by faith. Martha makes the following claim:

Yet even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her. Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”” (John 11:22–24, CSB)

Martha knows that there is going to be a resurrection. Jesus gives her that comfort to ease he fears of death.

So the fear of Martha and Mary is shared with Jesus. Now Jesus doesn’t express that fear openly with others. He holds that fear inside. He doesn’t go around “scared out of His mind.” God’s love helps Jesus to overcome His fear. He doesn’t let fear stop Him from doing what God needed Him to do, which in this case is to empathize with this family. Jesus used God’s love to help others with their fears. That leads us to the next emotion.

God’s love can help me express my grief (John 11:35)

Jesus wept. (John 11:35, CSB)

The shortest verse is in the Bible is probably the most powerful. In many translations, it says that “Jesus wept.” But this is no form of ordinary crying. Jesus was grieved. Grief happens on the inside. Mourning happens on the outside. So when Jesus saw his friends mourning over the loss of their friend, He was grieved on the inside. He showed that grief by weeping.1

Inwardly, Jesus is grieving the loss of his friend Lazarus. Outwardly, He mourning with Martha and Mary. Psychologists talk about the stages of grief. In these cases, they describe how a person goes through a set of emotions. They will weep, cry, and then at some point, they will get angry. This is what we see Jesus experience next. He is weeping because He knows that Lazarus is dead. He knows that this death has affected other people. He knows that they are hurting. Jesus is allowing God’s love to flow through Him by sharing in their grief.

Sometimes, the best way you can help someone when they lose someone they love is to sit with them and just be there with them. At the moment, you may feel emotions of sadness. It is best to go ahead and express it. Share it. Because God’s love will flow through that sadness to help.

This hurt is what causes Jesus to express another emotion.

God’s love can help me to properly direct my anger (John 11:33, John 11:38)

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled.” (John 11:33, CSB)

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.” (John 11:38, CSB)

Jesus is angered from within. Dr. David Winkle makes the following observation about the anger which Jesus expresses2:

The image of “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” is a softened translation. Jesus is furious and so angry that he is trembling. He is not angry at Mary or Martha or any of the other mourners. He is angry at the situation that has brought such devastation into these people’s lives. He is angry at death which is a manifestation of the evil of Satan’s kingdom. Jesus’ anger should not be confused with the anger which is one of the “five stages of grief” as proposed by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. His anger is directed at the source of grief itself. At the tomb of Lazarus, the two kingdoms are about to collide, and Jesus is fighting mad.

The onlookers can see only Jesus’ tears, not the inner turmoil of his soul. But even if his anger is internalized, what causes this strong inner emotion? In the literature, there are two main schools of thought.3 Jesus could be angry because of unbelief. However, I think the internal turmoil that affects Jesus’ emotions is death.

In the grieving process, one gets angry because a loved one has died. There is an anger to the unfairness of it all. Two times, Jesus gets angry. In this case, the direction of that anger is at the fact that someone has died. So, Jesus is angry, not that He didn’t make it in time. Jesus is angry at the unfairness of the death of His friend.

He is outraged at what he sees. The Lord of life is now directly confronting his opponent, death, symbolized in the cave-tomb before him. 4

There are times like this when we can feel like life is unfair. We can express that unfairness with the emotion of anger. We shake our fists at the system or the situation.

Jesus redirected that anger to God. He vented that anger into a prayer of praise. From anger, we see that Jesus leads Himself to the final emotion, joy.

God’s love leads me to joy (John 11:41-43)

So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know that you always hear me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe you sent me.” After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:41–43, CSB)

When Jesus prays, I believe He is praying out of a sense of joy. Jesus knows that God will answer His prayer. Jesus knows that the end result will be positive. This makes Jesus happy. Yes, He is happy because God will let Him raise His friend from the dead. But Jesus is also happy because He will eventually conquer death. He will ultimately succeed. You can sense that happiness of success in Jesus’ final words after Lazarus appears:

The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”” (John 11:44, CSB)

Jesus is not scared of Lazarus who just came out of the grave. Jesus is happy. “Get him out of these dead clothes. Lazarus is alive!” I believe that this last statement before Lazarus came out of the grave was full of emotion. Jesus shouted these words, full of sympathy, full of power, full of love. We know this because other people saw this love-filled emotion and spoke about Jesus having this loving emotion:

So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”” (John 11:36, HCSB)

The people around Him could see how the death of Lazarus moved Him. The people around Him could sense how hurt He was at the unfairness of it all. The people recognized that Jesus felt love for this special family. The people saw this love when Jesus shouted out for Lazarus to come out of the grave. Emotions never overpowered Jesus and His mission – they amplified it. Emotions revealed the character of Jesus, and they will reveal your character as well.5

The ultimate goal for our emotions is to reach the emotion of joy. I believe this is the reason why the Bible encourages us to “rejoice” or experience joy in all things. I think one of the reasons is because joy will be our primary emotion in Heaven. Jesus showed us how to go through all of our emotions and reach the ultimate emotion of joy.

The joy that Jesus expresses here is the same joy that He wants you to have as well. The Christian life will end in joy. Yet, that can only begin for us if we place our trust in Him.

1 Jim Erwin, “Jesus Grieved,” John 11:35, 14 September 2015, Internet, Patheos, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2015/09/14/jesus-grieved/, accessed on 3 August 2018.

2 Dr. David Winkle, “Fighting Mad, John 11:28-44 [Daily Devotional],” 16 April 2011, Internet, http://www.sundayeducation.com/2011/04/16/fighting-mad-john-1128-44-daily-devotional/, accessed on 3 August 2018.

3 Stephen Voorwinde, Jesus’ Emotions in the Gospels (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2011), 175.

4 Gary M. Burge, John, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000), 319.

""For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, ..."

The Ministry of Suffering

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Evangelical
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment