A search for a quotation reference today hooked me back into the best book I ever read on emotions and God. My copy of Cry of the Soul, by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III, which I first purchased at a conference in 1997, bears the tattering and teeth marks left by a chocolate lab named Gracie. Somehow that seems appropriate for a work that invites us to take the tears and tears of our soul to the Lord and shows us how that’s exactly what many of the Psalmists do. Listen to this small portion on fear:
“The Psalms, and the Bible generally, extol a type of fear that God greatly desires to instill in us. It is the fear of the Lord. ‘The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in nothing but his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11).
What are some Psalms you turn to to express emotion or when you are dealing with fear?
Fear distorts our perception of ourselves so that we seem weaker than we really are. It distorts the size of our problems so that they seem huge and undefeatable. But perhaps most significantly, fear distorts our picture of God. God seems weak, uninvolved, or uncaring in the midst of our troubles. After all, we think, if he were strong and concerned, he would not leave us in this mess.
Fear reverses reality by making evil seem all-conquering, and God impotent. But God is not impotent. The psalms bombard us with images of his power. He is a king (Psalm 47), a warrior (18:7–15), a rock (31:2), and a fortress (46:7, 11). They also fill our minds with pictures of his goodness, compassion, and mercy. He is the shepherd (Psalm 23) and a loving mother (Psalm 131).