The main problem with pain is that it hurts. We don’t like the pain and the negative feelings that are associated with pain. So we try to get rid of pain as quickly as we can.
Part of the pain we experience when bad things happen to us include a variety of emotional responses. These include anger, sorrow, grief, depression, bitterness, and hatred.
People deal with pain in a variety of ways, which we will look at shortly, but before we do we should look at some reasons why God would want us to experience pain and negative emotions.
Many Think Negative Emotions are Bad or Evil
Many believers are out of touch with their feelings. They actually believe that the emotions they are experiencing are bad and evil. If they were a “good” Christian they would not have to deal with depression, anger, sadness, hatred, or grief.
Any time they experience a strong emotion they immediately turn away from it, thinking that it is evil or of the flesh. If it feels bad it must be bad. This thinking is incorrect and gets in the way of a person’s emotional health.
The reason I say that strong emotions in themselves are not evil is because God Himself experiences strong emotions and He is holy and emotionally whole. If these emotions are evil, then God would have nothing to do with them. God experiencing them shows us the validity of the emotion.
The Bible shows us that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit all experience what we consider to be negative emotions. Let’s look at how each or the members of the Trinity experienced strong emotions.
God experiences anger
“Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel . . .” (2 Samuel 24:1).
The phrase “anger of the Lord” is used 35 times in the Bible to describe God’s response to the sinfulness of man. God experiences anger. God’s anger burns against injustice, idolatry, the shedding of innocent blood, taking advantage of the poor, the weak, children, and widows.
Anger is a strong emotion. So much so that many people want to get rid of it as something evil. God’s anger burned. It was strong and it was pointed at unrighteousness.
Some things should make us angry. When a grown man beats a little baby because it does not stop crying. When a mother drowns her children because she no longer wants to care for them. Or when someone scams an eighty-year-old woman out her life savings. We should be angry.
The Bible does deal with the idea of anger and what we should do with it. “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:26-27).
Anger is not the problem. What we do with anger is. The Bible tells us to deal with our anger quickly and not allow it to fester. When anger festers it builds into unforgiveness, rage, bitterness, craving for revenge, and other undesirable feelings and emotions that give place to the devil.
We can see what takes place when anger is given an opportunity to simmer. There are times when the anger erupts and brings its destructive effects with it. Racial unrest erupts into riots that cause millions of dollars damage and further anger.
One groups holds anger and hatred toward the other. They seek some way of revenge and cause great harm. The group that was hurt is stirred to more anger and hatred and seeks revenge. The cycle continues endlessly every day across our world.
The devil will take every opportunity to stir up anger, division, and strife. He loves it when you hold anger in your heart. It gives him an opportunity to bring his destruction into your life.
Learn to use anger the right way. Anger is a signal that something is wrong. When you are angry take a moment to stop and find out why. It is there for a reason and many times not the reason we give.
We say, “You made me so angry.” Many times it is not the person that made you angry. You were responding to something else. That is where investigating why the anger is there and dealing with the real issue is so important.
When you take time to ask God why you are angry, He will show you. When He does, you will be able to start dealing with the real source of your anger.
Some of the causes of anger are past hurts, guilt over something we have done or not done, feelings of injustice, or feeling overwhelmed. Once you determine why you are angry you can bring the issue to the Lord and and walk through the process of healing.
The Holy Spirit Experiences Grief
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
There are many verses in the Bible about the Holy Spirit. As far as I know there is only one strong negative emotion attributed to the Holy Spirit: grief. I am sure that there are many things that cause the Spirit to be grieved.
The Spirit can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31). No, blasphemy is not swearing or cursing. It means to slander or to speak lightly of sacred things. The Jewish leaders were convinced that Jesus cast out demons by the power of the devil. It was the Holy Spirit’s power doing this. They slandered the work of the Holy Spirit by saying the source was demonic.
The Spirit can also be insulted (Hebrews 10:29). The idea is of a person considering oneself to be superior and insults through their disdain for a person or thing.
The Spirit experiences grief when the church lives in disarray. In Ephesians chapter four Paul’s encouragement of not grieving the Spirit is surrounded by words like stealing, unwholesome words, bitterness, wrath, clamor, slander, and malice.
When the church acts this way the Holy Spirit experiences emotional pain. The idea of grief is a sadness caused by the pain one experiences in their soul. This pain resulted from the ungodly actions of members of the church in Ephesus. The Spirit saw what they were doing and was grieved.
Jesus Experienced Deep Emotional Pain
“And He took with Him Peter, and James, and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death: remain here and keep watch.” (Mark 14:32-33)
“And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
It is in the Garden of Gethsemane that we see the humanness of Jesus most clearly. For months He was telling His disciples that He was going to go to Jerusalem, be rejected by the leaders there, and beaten, crucified, and be resurrected after three days.
Jesus knew the time of His betrayal and His death on the cross had come. He knew He was going to face rejection, beatings, scourging, and the painful death of crucifixion. The weight of what was coming came crashing down on Him as He entered the garden.
The Gospels use some powerful words to describe the emotions that Jesus felt. There is no way for me to adequately describe what took place in the heart and mind Jesus. There is no way for you understand the struggle and depth of emotion that Jesus went through that night.
Let’s look at the meanings of some of the words used to describe the almost overwhelming emotions Jesus dealt with His final night before the crucifixion.Jesus became “very distressed.” The idea behind this word is that Jesus was greatly amazed, astonished, alarmed. The full emotional impact of what He was facing hit Him all of the sudden.
Powerful emotions rose up in Him. He was “grieved” (sorrowful and distressed) and “distressed” (be full of heaviness, be very heavy.” He wasn’t just grieved, he was “deeply grieved” (exceedingly sorrowful, extremely afflicted, profoundly sorrowful).
The emotions Jesus was feeling were so strong and impacting that Jesus told Peter, James, and John that His soul was “deeply grieved to the point of death.” Jesus was feeling the full weight of what was coming. He had a choice to make and so He prayed to the Father.
Jesus was in agony. This word describes a struggle taking place in Jesus for victory. An inner battle raged as Jesus fervently prayed for what was about to happen not to happen. The internal battle was so strong that Jesus sweat drops like blood.
He asked God three times if there was any other way. Three times He knew there was not. Three times He told God that His will be done, not His own. He won the battle over His emotions and willingly went to the cross.
You are an emotional being, but you don’t have be driven or overcome by emotions. There is no need to run from your emotions or try not to experience them. God created you in His image. Emotions are part of the package.
Jesus is an example that no matter how strong the emotions, they can be dealt with if you bring them to the Lord in prayer. When Jesus was faced with His agonizing decision, He took it to the Father. It was in prayer that He won the victory.
How we deal with pain determines the results we experience. Let’s look at some of the ways people try to deal with pain and strong emotions.
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