Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Emotional Health, Part II

This is Part II of a two-part post on emotional health based on a paper that I wrote:

There will be sometimes when, despite his love and mercy, God will allow us to be afflicted and encounter difficult situations. The psalmist finds himself surrounded by bulls and roaring lions, poured out like water, weak, thirsty, and near death. These crucibles in our lives can bring growth and maturity. The psalmist asks the question of the Lord, "How long?" Only the Lord can determine the length of severity of our trials, but he will use them for our benefit. As James says in his letter in the Bible, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."

Despite his difficulties, David controlled what he was able to and released what he could not. McCloskey writes that David "dealt with his pain by embracing it and moving through it, not denying it or going around it." God uses these times in our lives, although we may not be aware of it, and sometimes these difficulties are the very things that are necessary in order for us to do the work that is required for a change to occur in our lives.

In the midst of these difficulties in our lives, we also must realize that others see us and our reaction to difficulty. The psalmist knows that there are those who are seeking his demise and who know of his relationship with the Lord; he has become a testimony to the One whom he serves. We see in Psalm 22 that David does not cease praising and worshiping the Lord even during his difficulties, He continues to revere the Lord and shows us our final lesson.

The essential way to move through difficulties is to find our hope, our strength, and our confidence in our relationship with God; we put our faith, trust, and assurance in God. In Psalm 6:9 the psalmist knows with confidence that his cry has been heard by God. Psalm 22 ends with a song of God's faithfulness to the afflicted ones. The psalmist acknowledges that his soul is downcast and his inward being is disturbed, but he is encouraged to put his hope in God and to praise him in Psalm 42.

Successful leaders realize that God has given them a certain amount of ability and strength but they also know that he is their greatest asset, for without him they can accomplish nothing. The psalmists in these three Psalms speak of God's faithfulness, God's listening ear to cries for mercy, and their own history of faithful worship. Elsewhere in the Psalms, Asaph writes, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

The Psalms give us a picture into the emotional state of those who wrote them. We see them expressing their emotions, unafraid of being authentic and transparent. There is a stark realization within the psalmists that they are testimonies to God's grace and faithfulness, even in the midst of difficulties. As they lead people, it is not only through their own personal victories and success, but also their failures and difficulties. The way in which these difficulties and the emotions that are felt during them are handled can measure our emotional maturity. The difficulties have the ability to not only shape those who are going through them, but others who observe as well.

Despite difficulties and what may sometimes appear as a God who is not listening, we must find our hope in him; He is the source of our strength. The psalmists always came to rest in this truth, finding comfort and assurance there and reminding themselves of the history of God's faithfulness to his people.

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