Updated: Apr 6, 2022
Have you ever wondered if Christians are any better at handling life’s difficulties than those who do not claim to follow Jesus?
As followers of Jesus we should be able to go "there". "There", being the difficult place of uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and emotions. I have heard it said many times that Christians sometimes simplify death and loss because of having hope for the next life. A verse like Romans 8:18 might be used; “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” When people make us feel that we should not be as sad or upset as we are, it can discourage us from dealing with our real feelings, which can slow down our emotional, relational or even spiritual growth.
While I have faith that the Bible is true and this life is not the end for those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, I know that religious talk around trials can be dismissive and minimize the pain that those suffering feel (for Christians and non-Christians alike).
So what does the Bible say we should feel? Should we "go there”?
Yes, we should.
Dealing with our difficult thoughts, feelings and emotions is not only one of the most spiritual and healing behaviors in times of grief and loss, it is the bravest approach we can take. Asking God to look at your most vulnerable inner dialogue and asking him to show you what you need to work on is crazy brave!
If we look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:4 (NLT)
"God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
This does not say that God blesses those who ignore their pain and act like nothing is hurting. When we deny that we have a wound, we can’t heal from it. We might develop a worse wound, scar or not engage in the next relationship or opportunity fully because of a fear of getting hurt again.
I often see this with men; they think that if they talk about feelings, it will make them weak. False. Living a disingenuous life makes you weak, vulnerable, and more susceptible to future struggles and moral failures. Integrity is being whole and consistent throughout your character. Not dealing with hard emotions makes us weak.
What if we ask God to show us how He is already with us and to show us what we need to work on?
Psalm 139:23–24 (NLT)
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Becoming known is powerful. It may not always be comfortable but it is where we grow.
Growth is on the other side of our vulnerability. So, let's go “there.”
To get started, here are 3 quick tips to deal with emotions when you don’t want to deal with them.
Name what hurts, what you fear and/or what you lost.
Ask God to teach you during this time. Ask, “God, are you trying to show me something?”
Be honest with others about the mental, emotional and spiritual work you are doing to get stronger. It will keep you accountable and encourage them to do the work as well.