Ever feel like God does not care about your feelings? You are not alone. This assumption is one that can promote a sense of invalidation within our relationship with God. In many ways, this belief can frame our faith in such a way that it leaves us quick to mask the messiness of our emotions for the sake of spiritual maturity. If we feel our feelings, does that mean our faith is fragile? When emotions overwhelm us, is God actually for us?
This disconnect between emotional health and Christian theology has been at odds for some time. The common Christian response to uncomfortable emotions is phrases like “You just need to pray more” and “trust the Lord in all circumstances,” which adds to the distortion that our distress impairs our spiritual maturity. I whole-heartedly believe that the spiritual disciplines found in Scripture were never meant to invalidate our pain and problems, but rather invite us into expressing our feelings openly and freely to a loving and caring God.
Here is the truth: You matter to God, feelings and all.
Never in Scripture do we see Jesus dismiss the feelings of others or invalidate those in distress. On the contrary, God’s Word reiterates the safety found in seeking God as our refuge when we are weak (Psalm 46:1–3), and as a shelter when we are suffering (Psalm 62:8).
When we are faced with feelings that shake our faith, we must go back to Scripture and be reminded that our emotions, created by God, are meant to bring us closer to Him, not pull us farther away. In my exploration of this concept, I have found four ways God responds to my feelings which have strengthened my faith and comforted my soul.
- God Is Present in My Feelings
In Psalm 34:18-19, David speaks of how God is attentive in our distress saying:
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
God does not leave us in our distress or dismiss the weight of our worries, but graciously comes near us as a father comforts his dear child. His awareness is active. The passage states that God saves the crushed in spirit, delivering them out of pain. What is even more powerful about this passage is that in the original Hebrew, the term for saves is translated as “to be safe.” God is not simply standing by us, but He actively provides safety for us in His presence.
- God Values My Feelings
In addition to God’s attentiveness, He also values emotions. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see His expression of emotion and how He values caring for those who were suffering. Jesus wept with those who experienced loss (John 11:34-36) and comforted many with compassion and consideration (Mark 6:50).
The intersection of emotional expression and validation was first modeled for us by God throughout the Old Testament, and then again by Jesus throughout the gospels. We see how God so gently guided the Israelites, despite their rebellion and complaining throughout the book of Exodus. Similarly, Jesus speaks to many emotions in his Sermon on the Mount saying,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:3-4).
The apostle Paul speaks on this same value of emotional expression, encouraging believers to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:15).
I wonder what it would look like to begin to value the emotions we experience and own the freedom to express them, knowing that God is near and desires to comfort us with His compassion.
- God Challenges My Feelings
Within God’s attentiveness and compassion for His children, He challenges the feelings that no longer have a place in our lives and hearts. Paul writes on this disputation of futile feelings, encouraging Timothy to not be overcome by fear.
He says, “For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit, not of fear but power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
This response to my feelings is one that helps me identify the foundation of my emotions. As I seek to understand God’s Word and His truth, I am reminded to align my feelings with the promises found in Scripture. This passage reminds me of the truth of the Spirit of God at work in me.
- God Reframes My Feelings
Finally, I believe that God’s Word so beautifully helps us to reframe our emotions by placing our focus and intention back on God’s power, strength, and ability to meet us in our emotions.
One of my favorite passages that help reframe my feelings and focus on my faith is found in Philippians 4:8-9 where Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Paul’s words remind me to slow down and replace my thoughts that have led to distress and distortions within my heart. When feelings flood our minds and muddy the truth of God’s goodness and grace, we are invited to renew our minds in the truths found in His Word.
So, whatever you may be feeling, just remember that God is near and desires to be involved in the fears and failures, the loss and laughter. His Word reminds us to feel and to be free from the false kind of faith that negates the weight of raw emotions. Let us continue to seek after God, training our hearts to find rest in the truth, and knowing that God does care about our feelings.
Photo credit: Unsplash/whoislimos
Carley Marcouillier: With a Bachelor of Science in Religion and a Masters of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Carley works to provide mental health services to the under served within the heart of Virginia. In addition to her clinical pursuits, Carley is passionate about discussing the topics of faith, theology, psychology, and everything in between on her blog carleymarcouillier.com and social media platform. When she is not working with clients or writing, Carley enjoys good cups of coffee, training for triathlons, and traveling to new places.