I was once told by a friend and mentor that I am an emotional cripple. That was a good number of years, even decades ago, and while I think my emotional life has come a long way, I still don’t see myself as completely whole in that area. Emotions such as joy and peace can act as buffers against the inevitable hard knocks and grind of this world. I have to admit that I struggle somewhat in trying to think through the issue of emotions.
I really do believe that emotions a part of our humanity from creation and are renewed in new creation in Jesus. Just the same, I can’t live by emotions, good or bad. They happen, they come and go. They are a byproduct, really, of living. We need to watch our lives, to guard our hearts, to hold on to faith and a good conscience.
I have wondered about Mother Teresa’s decades long suffering of “the dark night of the soul.” I have found in my own life that when I accept the dark times, even the times of inward oppression, it is often not long before those emotions and that experience is lifted.
I also wonder about what we might call a happified existence. Where everything is great all the time and there is much joy and laughter. I think we need more joy and laughter, to be sure, but I wonder how such an existence fits into the picture of the psalmists, who are often flailing away at life, even at God about life, sometimes even at God himself. Jesus himself, though a person of joy and peace, was also a man of sorrows and acquainted with suffering, or grief.
We need the presence of God through Christ by the Spirit. And that will help us. But perhaps the experience of darkness in this life helps us as well, in ways which are difficult, but in the way of following Jesus, the way of the cross. We have to learn to live with pain, with suffering, and to do so in the meekness and love of our Lord.
And so we go on, regardless of what we are experiencing inwardly, together in Jesus for the world.