Do you feel you’re on an emotional rollercoaster as we navigate life through this pandemic? Some days you feel you’re thriving while other times you feel you’re barely surviving. You are not alone!
We can experience so many emotions in the course of a day: anxiety and confusion, irritation, frustration and even anger. There is so much suffering in this fallen world. Often we try to shield ourselves from sadness, but perhaps this pandemic is highlighting it, with concerns over health, education and unemployment filling our news. On the world stage the virus rages, the conflicts and wars continue; refugee crises show no sign of abating. So much misery!
Actually, I’ve never been on a real rollercoaster. Just watching one would be enough to make me sick! Strong feelings are not new to me, though, and while extreme emotions careering out of control can’t be good, I’ve never felt ‘balance’ was the answer. It sounds so lukewarm and reminds me of Jesus’ complaint to the church at Laodicea, ‘Because you are neither hot nor cold I’ll spit you from my mouth’ ( Revelation 3:16). Lukewarm makes Jesus sick! No, we are called to ‘love’ not ‘balance’, which involves rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15).
Even when I’m in a more positive mood, I feel the deep yearning of ‘How long, Lord?’
Harness strong emotions for praise and prayer.
Jesus wept over the city. Like a mother hen he longed to gather the people under his wing to protect and save them from disaster, but they were not willing (Luke 13:34). Let’s pray for our city, our nation and our world, that during this pandemic many minds and hearts would be seeking God for refuge.
C.S. Lewis once said,
‘Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’
I prefer the motif of a palm tree rather than a rollercoaster – a palm tree that can bend this way and that without snapping, even in the most violent of storms. It has a strong, flexible trunk, but the real secret is in the root system. The roots are entwined like a big ball of spaghetti, rolling to allow the movement of the tree.
It’s all about roots!
We are rooted in Christ’s love, rooted in his Word, rooted in his promises. Being aware of the big picture of God’s plan and purpose for this world grounds us in thankfulness and hope.
The palm tree in Scripture is a symbol of victory. Remember how the people waved their branches when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. Sadly they were waving with the wind of this world, misunderstanding his kingdom and kingship, disappointed that Jesus cleansed the temple rather than routing the Romans. Less than a week later they were crying out for his crucifixion.
Let’s not sway with the wind of the world.
In the book of Revelation we see another picture, a great multitude from every nation, tribe and tongue who truly understand Christ’s triumph. They are standing around God’s throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white and waving their palm branches, singing, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!’( Revelation 7:9-10).
Let’s sway with the wind of his Spirit,
Knowing the security of Christ’s love and ultimate control anchors our hearts and saves us from hopeless despair, while feeling the pain, sorrow and anguish of this world will keep us compassionate and save us from triumphalism.
Joy and sorrow are not like a rollercoaster ride tearing upwards, then, without warning, plunging downwards. Nor are they mingled in a lukewarm mush. No, these strong and deep emotions are experienced together, co- existing in the Christian’s heart.
This is because the foundation of our faith is the Cross of Christ – such pain and grief producing such joy in the gospel. We taste both each time we celebrate The Lords Supper, and each time we bury a loved one. Jesus, the ‘man of sorrows’ was anointed with joy beyond his fellow man (Hebrews 1:9), and even in our sad times he makes our joy complete ( John 15:11).