We all have valleys and peaks, right? Hard times, ugly times, and difficult times are counteracted by mountaintops when were are radiant with joy, confidence, and life. I’m in one of those valleys at the moment. Hear me out though, and please don’t send flowers.
I have not experienced spring since 2007. In the fall of 2007 we moved from our home in Kentucky to Tanzania (where we lived until a few months before our move to France). Tanzania is an equatorial country on the African continent. In Tanzania, there are basically two seasons: hot and slightly less hot. Plus there’s a short rainy season and a long rainy season. Couple that with the fact that when “spring” hypothetically would have occurred, we were making moves to or from mountainous regions with drastically different climates. We never experienced anything like spring. No seasonal blooms, not much grass to speak of, and no melting of the snow.
For some, this would be a grave disappointment. But not for me! You see, I’m one of those people who experience a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde like transformation every year come April. When the grass turns green again and flowers open their petals, my eyes swell up like ripened tomatoes and my nose leaks like our old African toilet (the one which had running water... that ran straight onto our floor). I ache all over, and when I’m not trying to grow my fingernails faster to use as eye-gouging instruments, I’m mixing up cocktails of super-caffeinated drinks and anti-histamines that will still probably put me to sleep.
Spring has sprung. And let me tell you, it’s beautiful in Paris. We can go outside and not freeze, we see the sun again and we can (sometimes) eat dinner before it’s completely dark out. But I’m miserable; sneezing, itching, and aching are not for me. And you know what? It stinks. I’m not pleased. I don’t like it.
There’s more to this than just a little whine fest. And I don’t mean to take it out on you. Please forgive me for that. I do however, think that God gave us emotions and perhaps He would like us to use them, especially in relating to Him. Take David for instance. Hand a psychologist the book of Psalms, and I think in short order a bipolar diagnosis would be handed back to you. David was all over the place. In one moment he was shrinking in fear, in the next he was dancing before God without a worry in the world. A few examples:
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (63:5)
Help, Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. (12:1-2)
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. (3:5-6)
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (13:1-2)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (103:11-12)
Let me translate a little...
You, God, give me everything I need. Hear it from me: ‘You take perfect care of me!’ I can’t stand this place and these people! They are all liars out to get me! There’s nothing to be afraid of; God you protect me always. Hello!! Is anybody up there?!? I’m drowning in myself, and you couldn’t care less, GOD! Your love cannot be measured, it’s so immense. The east and west never meet, and that’s what you’ve done with my sin and my messy past, you’ve thrown it away from me as east is to west.
David’s raw emotion drives his communication with God. And we say “David was a man after God’s own heart.” Since God says it too (Acts 13:22), maybe there’s something God likes about the heart, the being, the emotional self of David, and maybe we should take note of it instead of trying to flatline ourselves all the time.
I’m not proposing we begin lamenting in the streets or break down in tears to the next passerby whom asks “How are you?”, but I do feel that God deeply desires our deepest and simplest feelings as we communicate with Him. No matter how silly, small, or painfully deep it is, tell God how you really feel today. There’s a good chance He’ll answer, and answer well.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.