To “explore the iceberg” is to look beneath the surface of our lives, identifying the hidden but powerful forces that shape the way we navigate choices and relationships. By acknowledging and naming these realities, we raise our emotional awareness, which in turn enables us to process our emotions in a healthy way, and to integrate them into our discernment of God’s will.
In the Psalms, King David offers us a powerful example of this when he pours out his heart to God (see Psalm 62:8). When we embark on a similar journey, we experience a newfound grace to be increasingly approachable, kind, and gentle — not only with God, but also with those around us.
Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:36-44
Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.”
Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with Me for one hour?” He asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.”
When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So, He left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
In some Christian circles, repressing or disavowing authentic emotion is considered a virtue or perhaps even a gift of Spirit. Denying anger, ignoring pain, skipping over depression, running from loneliness, and avoiding doubt are not only considered normal but actually virtuous ways of living out one’s spiritual life.
But this is not the model we find in Jesus, who freely expressed His emotions without shame or embarrassment:
- He shed tears (Luke 19:41).
- He was filled with joy (Luke 10:21).
- He felt overwhelmed with grief (Mark 14:34).
- He was angry and distressed (Mark 3:5).
- He was sorrowful and troubled (Matthew 26:37).
- His heart was moved with compassion (Luke 7:13).
- He expressed amazement (Mark 6:6, Luke 7:9).
Jesus was anything but an emotionally frozen Messiah. In Gethsemane, we see a fully human Jesus — anguished, sorrowful, and spiritually overwhelmed. He is pushed to the extremes of His human limits:
and being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. — Luke 22:44
So, we must ask ourselves: Where did we get the idea that acknowledging and expressing authentic emotion is somehow less than spiritual? And why do we believe that we can — or somehow should — grow in spiritual maturity without simultaneously growing in emotional maturity?1
Question to Consider
In light of Jesus’ ability to express His feelings to His closest friends, how would you describe your ability to do the same? Do you do so easily, awkwardly, with great difficulty, or never?
Lord, help me to slow down enough to feel and acknowledge what is going on inside me. Grant me the courage to enter into honest and authentic relationship — with You, with others, and with myself — trusting that You will carry me. Help me to rest and relax in You as I take the risk to be more transparent and vulnerable with my emotions. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)
Silence and Stillness God before God (2 minutes)
Scripture Reading: Job 3:1-5; Job 6:1-4
After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said:
“May the day of my birth perish,and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’
That day — may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it.
May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more… If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas — no wonder my words have been impetuous.
The arrows of the Almighty are in me,my spirit drinks in their poison;God’s terrors are marshaled against me.”
Job was one of the richest men in the world in his day. In contemporary terms, his assets would have included a fleet of Rolls-Royces, private airplanes, yachts, thriving global companies, and significant real estate holdings.
He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. — Job 1:3
After a series of natural disasters, however, something unthinkable happens — Job is reduced to poverty and his ten children are killed in a terrible natural disaster. When he attempts to get on his feet, he is infected with “sore boils” from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Physically, it looks like he is about to die at any moment. His wife’s compassionate counsel? “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).
Job finds himself alone, isolated, and living outside the city walls in the garbage dump. As the text indicates, Job is very angry. But there is a lesson for us even in Job’s anger. Here is how author Philip Yancey describes it:
One bold message in the Book of Job is that you can say anything to God. Throw at Him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment — He can absorb them all. As often as not, spiritual giants of the Bible are shown contending with God. They prefer to go away limping, like Jacob, rather than to shut God out. In this respect, the Bible prefigures a tenet of modern psychology: you can’t really deny your feelings or make them disappear, so you might as well express them. God can deal with every human response save one. He cannot abide the response I fall back on instinctively: an attempt to ignore Him or treat Him as though He does not exist. That response never once occurred to Job.”2
In the same way, God invites us to feel our emotions, experiencing them without self-condemnation, and exploring them in His loving presence.
Question to Consider
In what ways do you tend to suppress or deny difficult emotions — anger, sadness, fear — rather than admit them to yourself and God?
- For more information, see Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives, Updated and Expanded Edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 33, 55–56.
- Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 263.
Excerpted with permission from Emotionally Healthy Relationships Day by Day by Peter Scazzero, copyright Peter Scazzero.
* * *
Are you being as honest with God as Job was? If not, why not? Jesus personally understands every kind of emotion and He invited you to talk to Him about all of yours. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We would love to hear your thoughts on exploring the iceberg below the surface! ~ Devotionals Daily