Your Emotions Matter

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son... they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? ... My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.”— Hosea 11:1-8 Much of my upbringing in the church taught me to ignore emotion, and not to act or make decisions based on feelings. And yet, in this remarkable passage of Scripture, we see the compassionate, emotional heart of God. He allows us to know the inner recesses of His heart and the deep feelings He carries for His children.

But people are a little afraid of emotion like it’s not spiritually correct.

John Calvin worried about any suggestion that God has feelings and even wrote in his commentary on Hosea, “For it must ever be remembered, that God is exempt from every passion.”

While I respect Calvin, I disagree with him on this point. Hosea and indeed many portions of Scripture show us a God filled with deep emotion and feelings of love. Jesus, God incarnate, lived a life full of rich emotions. He loved, He knew sorrow, He wept openly, and expressed His righteous anger.

Since we are made in His image, we too have deep emotions and feelings.

“Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality...in neglecting our intense emotions, we are false to ourselves and lose a wonderful opportunity to know God. We forget that change comes through brutal honesty and vulnerability before God,” writes Dan Allender and Tremper Longman in The Cry of the Soul.

God brought His people to a place where their emotions and true feelings were exposed. Where they were forced to acknowledge their sin and their betrayal of Him, then face His unchanging, pursuing love.

Once we are honest about our feelings, they can be submitted to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who desires for our emotions to be rooted in His love, reflecting the fruits of His Spirit in healthy, healing ways.