Psalm 22 begins in despair: ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer, by night but I find no rest.’ (Ps 22:1-2)
There is a place for raw emotion in our dealings with God. There is a place for us to pour out our anguish, distress, confusion, bewilderment, anger and pain.
But there is also a place for truth. The psalmist goes on, ‘Yet You are enthroned as the Holy One; You are the One Israel praises. In You our ancestors put their trust; they trusted in You and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were saved; in You they trusted and were not put to shame.’ (Ps 22:3-5)
Truth acts like antiseptic cream on a raw wound. It stings, but it also helps the healing process. Truth cleans us. So often, our feelings are not aligned with objective truth (and we live in a society which at present seems to elevate feelings above truth and even derides the idea of objective truth which does not change.) Scripture does not tell us to deny, suppress or bury our feelings. The psalmists demonstrate to us raw, unvarnished, inelegant feelings plonked unceremoniously at God’s feet. But they also demonstrate to us the ‘yet’ and the ‘but‘ of truth. Change comes when feelings bow to the authority and lordship of truth. Victory comes when we hold on to truth rather than feelings as the solid, unchanging foundation of our lives.
Bring your feelings to God. But don’t rely on feelings to get you through today. Rely on God. Trust in Jesus, ‘the way, the truth and the life.’ (John 14:6) Psalm 22 was the psalm Jesus quoted on the cross, the lowest point anyone could ever experience. The cross was not the end of the story, however. Resurrection followed. Psalm 22 ends with worship: “They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: ‘He has done it!'” (Ps 22:31) This is what happens when truth reigns above feelings. Victory follows.