What if I told you that God was an emotional God? You’d probably tell me I’m crazy. Imagine a God who felt like we did?
The truth is that God has emotions. He feels like we do. All throughout the Bible we see a God who rejoices at truth, grieves over suffering, and yes, gets angry at stubborn defiance and disobedience.
The God I see revealing himself through the Bible is an emotional God. I see him grieve when Adam and Eve chose to define right and wrong for themselves; I see his joy when Abraham trusts him; I see his anger when Israel commits unspeakable evil as they worship idols.
God, YHWH, Jehovah – he is an emotional God. They don’t control him, but they touch his heart.
As a personal God who feels and experiences emotions, his interactions with us are extremely meaningful. If he was emotionless – an infinite and omnipotent robot – all interactions would be a routine, impersonal exchange, much like typing words on a keyboard and seeing results pop up on a computer screen. That means nothing.
God not only understands what you have experienced, but he understands how those experiences made you feel.
He understands. Let that sink in: God not only understands what you have experienced, but he understands how those experiences made you feel.
I am a private person; I don’t usually share how I feel – how I’m really doing when things are hard (I’m working on this though). This means I often feel alone. Even when I share what’s going on, no one else truly understands or feels as I do because it is my pain. Therefore, I am the one feeling it the deepest and strongest. But I am not alone in this. Regardless of circumstance, God knows and understands what is going on. He isn’t separated from our pain.
The greatest example of this was Jesus coming to earth. God always loved and was involved with his creation, but he went so far as being born human, demonstrating the depths of his love and commitment to those he loves: us. He didn’t remove himself from the filth of humanity, from sin’s resulting hopelessness, but came to us.
I recently attended YWAM Louisville’s Bible School for the Nations (BSN). I learned so much about God through his revelation of himself – the Bible, but one of the most meaningful outcomes of the school was this way I now look at God’s emotions. Prior to the school, the Old Testament, while containing exciting stories like the exodus from Egypt, was frightening territory as a whole. Revealed in those 39 books was a God I saw as angry and controlling. How could the destruction of the entire earth and nearly all life have been the actions of a good God? Or why would a loving God pronounce judgement and destruction over and over through the prophets? These and other similar questions would cross my mind, only to be immediately ignored; I wouldn’t even give them room in my mind. Doubting God’s goodness seemed the likely result of giving those inquiries residence in my thoughts. Unbeknownst to me, this attitude not only limited the impact and power of God’s Word, but also keep me from seeing more of God’s goodness, patience, and love. (Yes, you can see those things in the most difficult of passages in the Bible!) I was limiting God and didn’t even know it.
The God I encountered when I sought understanding, was extremely patient instead of hot-tempered, and forgiving instead of filled with wrath.
Throughout the five month school, I had to actually face those questions. The God I encountered when I sought understanding, was extremely patient instead of hot-tempered, and forgiving instead of filled with wrath. I encountered an emotional God who drew near to his creation and longed for them to draw near to himself.
I found myself in tears as I finished reading 2 Kings. Jerusalem, the jewel of Judah was destroyed; Israel had fallen years earlier. Hundreds of years of rebellion was met with patience and a relentless effort to bring his people back. God never gave up. The prophets, God’s messengers, tirelessly declared God’s warnings regarding the outcome of stubborn defiance, but the people refused to listen.
As I finished 2 Kings 25, I was reminded of the beginning of Genesis: God’s dream for relationship with humanity. With His chosen people carried off into exile, it seemed to me that God’s dream was lost forever. If those who experienced God’s faithfulness rejected him and his ways, how were those who didn’t have that knowledge to choose him? As I sat there, tears streaming down my face, I could almost feel the tiniest fraction of God’s grief. Thankfully, God never gave up on his dream, or his people.
That moment taught me something very valuable – God is not distant and he really cares. The depths of his feelings are beyond our comprehension, but what we need to remember, in the joys and sorrows, is that he is right there, experiencing it all with us.