Psalms: You Can Be Emotional With God

You may have picked up by now, that I am a people-pleaser. I want desperately to be liked and fear disappointing or upsetting people. For this reason, I tend to overlook offense. I hide it deep within myself and tend to assume that I am the problem. I fear confronting people and having them think lesser of me or worse, upsetting them.

God doesn’t mind when I’m upset with Him. In fact, He has set a precedent in Scripture for me to pour out the whole slew of emotions I feel before Him.

The Psalms, over and over again they express the heart of someone who is confused and upset with how God has allowed their lives to unfold. There’s a lot of asking God, “Hey! I’m a good person. Why is this happening to me?”

Often, we all ask that. It might be because our lives have taken an unexpected, un-welcomed turn. That job we loved was ripped from our hands. The spouse we’ve dreamed about isn’t appearing. Our children aren’t what we expected or simply are never arriving in our arms. Or maybe it’s what we see around us as we journey with a friend who was in an accident or who had that spouse that hurt them.

We don’t have to look far. Saints all around us are walking difficult roads fraught with pain.

King David and the other psalmists poured their hearts out before the Lord again and again. Their precedent shows us that we can be honest with God about our hurt and confusion while still finding ultimate hope in Him.

There is no place for Christian-ese niceties in the psalms. They are raw and they are real. Psalm 88 ends with a simple statement that darkness is the only companion the psalmist has. If that doesn’t show our ability to be honest with God, I don’t know what will.

Because of who God is, we can cry out before Him. Because of the psalms, we know our experience is not unique. Even David, a man after God’s own heart, experienced deep disappointment and hurt. David’s pain validates our pain. It shows us that we are not alone or lesser than other believers because we experience trials or doubt if God sees us.

While the psalms show expressions of deep pain, they do not leave us without hope for our condition. The endings often speak truth into our hearts and remind us of what is real even when we don’t feel like it’s real.

I think the first Bible verse I memorized as a child was the end of Pslam 23: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

My mother prayed these words over me while changing my diapers and teaching me how to walk. They are woven deeply into the fabric of my thinking and force their way to the top at the most inconvenient times. But when life is hard, when it feels unbearable, the final words of this psalm reminds me that God has the final word.

These words have pursued me through dark corridors. They have been my battle cry in the face of the Enemy when I feel pressed from every side. When I felt defeated and needed to remember the promise I have, these words have escaped my lips. On the mountaintop, when I survey His faithfulness, this has been the declaration I have hidden in my heart.

No matter what I feel like is happening, no matter what valley I am walking through, His goodness and mercy pursue me and I am not abandoned. Every twist and turn in the path I am walking will be transformed into a glorifying part of my journey. And at the end of my days, by His grace, I will dwell in His house forever.

If your journey is currently beautiful hide these words in your heart. When your life feels overwhelming, when you’re walking through the valley and question whether your journey matters to the Father, read the psalms and recall the words you’ve hidden in your heart. Dwell upon the raw emotions of those who have walked this earth before you and remember that even in their pain, they found hope in the Living God.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like: 

Pour Out Your Heart: How A Vulnerable Life Aids Spiritual Warfare

Lean Into Change (Because You’ll Be Okay)

Your Hidden Days Matter to God

To Your Impatient Heart: His Promise is Still True

God’s Word to the Waiting: 5 Verses to Encourage Your Heart





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    • That is so beautiful. It’s so wonderful that we can truly share our hearts with our Heavenly Father. Nothing shocks Him. He truly knows us.

  1. David was a great example of many things in the Psalms. He was very verbal with God. He did not keep his emotions hidden. He expressed his gratitude just as well as he expressed his disappointment and pains. I believe God wants us to be real with Him and do the same. After all, He already knows how we feel but expressing those feelings to Him show we trust Him.

  2. Thank you for your beautiful words and imagery! I love the Psalms, and I often forget they are cries of the heart! It’s been some time since I’ve been prostrate before the Lord, to lay down my pain. Not for lack of pain, but for lack of words or confidence! Thank you for reminding me that it’s my duty to do so. God wants me to lay it all before Him so He can do mighty things!

  3. The Psalms have always been a source of comfort for me, and I love that we can be honest with God about our feelings. Your post is a great reminder to lean into the Lord and remember we are not alone. Thanks for this!

  4. I love that our God is a Big God. He can handle whatever we throw at Him. The big emotions, hard questions, uncertainty…and He loves us through it all. I sometimes still find myself filtering my prayers, but I’ve become more intentional about just opening my heart and speaking to Him without hindrance. Being real…honest….raw…He knows everything that’s in there already anyway. Love your words. Love your writing style!

    • He can handle so much. I love the prayer of the tax collector in Luke 18, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

  5. it is important that we learn about managing emotions rather than allowing our emotions to manage us. For example, when we feel angry, it is important to be able to stop, identify that we are angry, examine our hearts to determine why we are angry, and then proceed in a biblical manner. Out-of-control emotions tend not to produce God-honoring results: “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20).

    Our emotions, like our minds and bodies, are influenced greatly by the fall of mankind into sin. In other words, our emotions are tainted by our sin nature, and that is why they need controlling. The Bible tells us we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 6; Ephesians 5:15–18; 1 Peter 5:6–11), not by our emotions. If we recognize our emotions and bring them to God, we can then submit our hearts to Him and allow Him to do His work in our hearts and direct our actions. At times, this may mean God simply comforts us, reassures us, and reminds us we need not fear. Other times, He may prompt us to forgive or to ask for forgiveness. The psalms are an excellent example of managing emotions and bringing our emotions to God. Many psalms are filled with raw emotion, but the emotion is poured out to God in an attempt to seek His truth and righteousness.

    • It is definitely important to put emotions in the context of truth but I know many Christians who used this to teach that emotions were altogether wrong. It was that unBiblical teaching that I was hoping to confront. Thank you for clarifying!

  6. I thought I commented, so if this is a dup, please forgive. I especially love this because so many churches think emotion of any kind doesn’t mix with a faith experience. My response usually is “have you read Psalms?”. This is good. We need to think soberly about who God is and how much He loves us and allows us to be “human”.

  7. This is beautiful. I’ve read that scripture many times and that ending never really stuck. I always refer back to Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good for them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. But I’m going to add Ps 23 to my arsenal of go-to scriptures. Thank you.

  8. I love so many of the Psalms!! When I was younger even though I knew that God knew my feelings and thoughts I still felt that it was wrong for me to tell Him that I was not happy with a situation or broken over something He allowed. I didn’t realize how much I was missing out in the freedom in Christ. I have had some of the sweetest moments with God when it’s raw and I’m bawling my eyes out. His gentleness that calms me becomes so very personal and its something you can’t explain to a person that doesn’t understand the realness of God!! You experience it but I still try to encourage others to be REAL with God. This is such a great post to share, very needed!!!

    • I used to feel that was as well. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned that true faith is following even when we feel those emotions and it’s hard to trust. God is good. I’m so grateful for the example of the Psalms.

    • Indeed! There is a time to bring our thoughts into submission to God’s word but God’s word makes it clear that we can be vulnerable with him when we’re confused or hurt.