In our broken world, painful things happen to people. What is even more tragic is how we handle the aftermath. How to handle those painful emotions. How do you handle hurt, frustration, infatuation, and anger, to name a few emotions?
One thing we forget is that God not only created us with emotions, he has them. How does God handle His emotions? How does God handle His disappointments, hurts and frustrations with us? Just because God loves us, doesn’t mean we don’t hurt or disappoint Him. As a matter of fact, those we love the most are the most capable of stirring various emotions in us. They are often the ones that can cause the greatest pain. Knowing how we often fail God, how does he handle his emotions? Reading from the Message, Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible I was confronted with this powerful picture of how God handles his emotions.
The history of the nation of Israel was one of continual rebellion. In spite of God’s incredible grace and patience, he eventually allows the consequences of sin to discipline their sinful decisions. The ultimate result of the sinful actions of the nation of Israel caused dispersion and exile.
One of the prophets who was taken into captivity by the Babylonians was Ezekiel. Though the nation had been conquered, it hadn’t been initially destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar placed a vassal king on the throne to govern the land while taking the leadership structure apart. Much of the nobility had been taken captive. In Ezekiel 20, the elders, now living in Babylon, were wondering what God was about to do. Will he quickly restore and return the people to their land? Reports from Jerusalem suggested that. Many were prophesying of that very thing.
So they came to Ezekiel to inquire of God. What God had to say through Ezekiel was not what they expected or wanted to hear. Knowing the condition of their soul, their lack of real sincerity and repentance, they didn’t fully understand that it was because of their sin that their nation was being disciplined. All they wanted was to have the blessings of the covenant restored. Ezekiel’s message confronted them not only with their failure but the failure of the nation throughout its history. Ezekiel relates how the history of the nation was one of continual disregard for God which led to sin.
Eugene Peterson translates this text revealing clearly the nature of God’s grace in spite of their sinfulness. “At that time, I told them, ‘Get rid of all the vile things that you’ve become addicted to. Don’t make yourselves filthy with the Egyptian no-god idols. I alone am God, your God. ‘But they rebelled against me, wouldn’t listen to a word I said. None got rid of the vile things they were addicted to. They held on to the no-gods of Egypt as if for dear life. I seriously considered inflicting my anger on them in force right there in Egypt. Then I thought better of it. I acted out of who I was, not by how I felt. And I acted in a way that would evoke honor, not blasphemy, from the nations around them, nations who had seen me reveal myself by promising to lead my people out of Egypt. And then I did it: I led them out of Egypt into the desert (Ezekiel 20:7-9). In spite of them, God blessed them and delivered them. He didn’t deal with them according to how he felt. His decision was based on his character, rather than his emotions.
How often this is the very place where we fail. We are an emotionally driven culture. Things today seemed less restrained. People are expressing themselves in unhealthy ways and pain is the result. For others, there is a growing suppression of emotions. Those who suppress their emotions are walking time bombs waiting to explode. All that is needed is some sort of triggering event. Often the response seems excessive and uncharacteristic of the person.
How should we handle our emotions? Since we are made in the image of God, we need to understand the nature of emotions. Emotions in and of themselves are not wrong; it’s what we do with them that makes either causes blessings or sinful actions. God has emotions. If we want to learn the best way to deal with our emotions, then we need to learn from God. How does he deal with his emotions? There are basically three things we can do with our emotions: (1) Express them. (2) Suppress them, or (3) address them. What do I mean by addressing our emotions? We need to come to terms with our emotions, but that doesn’t mean we act on how we feel.
Here in our text, it states that God acted out of who he is, not how he felt. Emotions are only a part of who we are. They should not determine or define who we are. If we don’t manage our emotions with the help of God’s Spirit and grace, they will manage us. To hear the rest of this message go to https://www.livingstones.ab.ca/missed-a-sunday-hear-our-messages/?sapurl=Lys4NGEyL2xiL21pLytmeDg3djhiP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==