Pondering: Emotions in God's Presence

"Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!" — Psalm 105:4

I feel like there may be a lie I've bought into regarding continually abiding in the Lord's presence.

God is not a happy-go-lucky god. In Scripture we find He expresses a range of emotions, from joy to sorrow, anger to pleasure, to jealousy and passionate love* for His people. So why should I expect to feel only joy and peace as I abide in Him?

Should I not feel anger and indignation at injustice as He does? Should not disgust, and not facination, be my first reaction when faced with vile sin as His is? Should my heart not ache as His does upon hearing of brutal deaths at the hands of evildoers? I cannot believe our just and merciful God looks with any pleasure upon sin or suffering, for it was not supposed to be part of the world nor will it have a place in the final restoration of mankind. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

I don't think I should even expect to feel peace all times as I seek His presence on this side of life. Peace is not just a feeling, an emotional state free of fear and anxiety; it is a state of circumstances, when everything is as it should be. But we do not live in a world where things are as they should be; we live in one crippled by sin. How can I feel at peace when there is injustice or sin and I have the power to do something about it? Then it would seem more right to feel indignation, righteous anger, or remorse until the deed needing doing is done. In cases where I have no power to help, except through prayer, then peace can and should reign in my heart because I have the future hope in Christ that everything will be set to rights one day.

In combatting this lie of constant bliss, I don't want to forget that I can only handle so much pain. God is infinite; His depth of feeling is greatly beyond my finite capabilities, and just a sliver of His heart's feelings would be unbearable to me. So I must rely on His wisdom to know when I need to let go and commit the situation to Him.

All this isn't to say there isn't joy in communion with God; there is great joy, a joy greater than any that can be found in heaven or on earth. Rejoicing, praise, gratitude, thanksgiving are essential parts of walking with Him. But God did not promise continual happiness to those who believe in His Son; He promised us Himself. And I want to receive all of Him with open hands, even if all of Him means heartache as well as joy.


*While I am a firm believer that love is not an emotion but an action—feeling "love" without the action of it is little more than affection or infatuation—I also believe that God feels passionately about those He has called to Himself. Emotions are a part of being created in God's image. If we as finite beings can feel so deeply and strongly, how much more can the Infinite One feel? Therefore it's all the more extraordinary that He is not steered by His emotions but works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).