My heart feels like a tornado has torn through it as I have been weeding through various emotions the past few days. So it’s fitting that the weather outside here in Oklahoma is brewing and fitting my friend Christina Fox‘s newly released book, A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament on dealing with our emotions is what I just read.
I would prefer an escape about right now and I know for most of us the very onset of emotions pertaining to worry, fear, anxiety, shame, grief, sorrow and despair make us want to hide or fast-forward. Therefore when they do bubble up in our hearts we try to stuff them away as best we can, pretending all is well by giving a postivite spin or dishonest answer to the things that aren’t so.
In A Heart Set Free the author helps us understand why we have a hard time truthfully acknowledging what is really going on in our hearts and why it is okay, and actually good, to allow ourselves to remain in hard emotional places. The book of Psalms shows us this as we read the “heart cries of real people who went through real struggles and real trials.” These were people who did not sugar-coat their problems, nor did they stuff them or try to fix it themselves. Instead they turned to God in the most intense moments of doubt, anger, sorrow, despair, fear and brokenness. And so should we.
God is big enough for our every emotion and even our questioning of Him. His desire is for us to pray our pain and to come to Him in dependence of Him, even when we are angry at Him. So I love that through the Psalms of lament we are given a blueprint of how to come to God in the midst of our emotions, not just “for the sake of catharsis” but with the end goal of bringing about a deeper worship and trust in the Lord. Even when the world feels like it is crashing down all around us.
To see the pattern developed through the flow of the psalms the author walks us through several laments and encourages us at the end of each chapter to work through others on our own. Over and over again what starts out as cries of desperation, confusion and abandonment gives way to hope and praise. But this is not the path where our emotions will naturally lead us apart from knowing who God is and remembering His truths.
What usually happens instead is our emotions dictate our self-talk and lead us deeper into despair. That is why we must fill our minds with the truths about God. When we are reminded of who He is, even in the midst of darkness peace that surpasses understanding can invade our hearts and transform our emotions.
So though reading this book and learning to follow the structure of the laments will not insulate you from feeling pain, by God’s grace it will help you learn where to take your every emotion so you can move to a place of worship and joy in all seasons. And even today as I wrestle with my own feelings after having read this book I found myself praying my own lament and turning to the Psalms for comfort.
How thankful I am my hope is found in something more sure than my own temporal happiness or ability to control. Thankful our hope is found in the One who became the Man of Sorrows and suffered for us so He could identify and enter in to our every sorrow, suffering and suffocating emotion.
If you would enjoy a free copy of this book, I have one to give away. The winner will be notified by email after a random selection on Saturday so please click on the link below to follow the instructions for leaving a comment following the prompt and your email address!
To order your own copy, your link straight to Amazon is here.