4 Aug 2016

You think you are emotional... wait till you meet this lady!

Most of us (guys included) have so many days when our my emotions go helter-skelter: up, down, even sideways. 

In a way, our emotions signal to us that we are alive for they are the first bits of us to respond. Sights, smells, touch, sounds all trigger emotional responses in us:


Sometimes they get too much and we just feel overwhelmed --

-- - especially when it's the negative ones like regret, doubt, grief. So perhaps we mutter 'whatever' and act as if we didn't care -- when we do.

Today, even as have made great strides towards understanding men and women and elevating the worth of women; emotions are still often seen as a liability; a particularly feminine one. It's something we don't want to take too seriously. 

This is how we like our emotions:

Then comes Jesus.

He has a way of bringing out the deepest truest parts of us if we are willing to risk it. 

from: knowingthetime.com

And he's not afraid of all our wildest emotions.

Jesus and his disciples were walking in a non-Jewish territory. This lady comes out of nowhere and begins crying out to Jesus for help. 

"Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed" ~ Luke 15

It then says that Jesus did not answer her a word. I always wonder about God's silence. It feels immediately like God is angry or has stopped caring. But could it be that God's silence is His way of giving us space and time to be. He is saying, "I am listening". 

This tiny thought explodes in my soul. The God of the Universe is listening to me and has chosen not to interrupt me as it were. 

Sometimes, what we need to say takes a long time for us to come to say it. Some struggles and questions are so deep, convoluted, messy; we need days and months and even years to be able to find the words to say it. All the time, God is listening.... until we are ready to hear.

The woman in this story responded to God's silence with pursuit. She obviously would not let up but railed on as she trailed them; for the disciples "implored Jesus to send her away because "she keeps shouting at us".

This is an intense scene.

Emotions are spilling out everywhere: the disciples are feeling embarrassed, awkward, annoyed. The woman has gathered all of her emotions: loss, confusion, powerlessness, grief, shame...and poured it all out before Jesus.

Jesus seems to stand apart from all this emotional outpouring; and we quickly conjure up our picture of the religious person: detached, cool, objective. But that's not accurate. Jesus is listening for the heart of her words. It is coming; and he wants to say something very critical to her.

Here is a picture of full-on emotional engagement that is meaningful.

There are times, we have to really let our emotions lead the way. Suppressing, ignoring, fearing what people may think won't work. 

For all we know, this woman's sorrow, frustration and anger at her situation may have often spilled out at the wrong people and at the wrong times. When your daughter has a demon; it is hard to be in control. The demon could act up and cause so much trouble for her. As a woman, she is physically unable to restrain it. Others would consider her suspect if not an outright witch or problem. Friends will be hard to come by.

But today; she sees an opportunity. We have no idea how she knows about Jesus and where she gets her notions from. But she got it right:

Jesus can handle all of her emotionsJesus can heal her daughter

So she lets it all out. She expresses her desperation - without reserve. 

To our eyes, it is probably a sad, pathetic scene. She is so losing it, we may think.

But that's not what Jesus sees in her desperation. When he finally speaks, he assuages her pain with a reference to his acceptance when he points out that house pets don't get to sit at the meal table. 

Did Jesus just compare her to a puppy?
Did God just describe me as a sinner?

Some of us hear God's word as condemnation.Some of us hear it as requirement.Some of us hear it as irrelevant.

This woman sees that Jesus has engaged her and she is not going to let go now. She hears it as an invitation to insist on her belief: Jesus, you can help me.

Jesus did not send her away.
He did not shut her up.
But he stretched the emotions for their worth. Jesus shared with a woman his missional priority (yes, a non-Jewish woman who would not be educated). For many again, this may seem uncaring and distancing. 

But not for this woman. 

Her answer is astounding. She humbly identifies herself with hungry dogs that will snap up the crumbs that fall from a table. 

Do we ever get this desperate?

I think we get grudging. "Ok God, since you can bless so-and-so with... then at least.." is more like us.
I know we get angry. "Why God?"
For sure, we get going with the complains department. " God, I have already been asking.."

As I read this, I recall that we were "once enemies, alienated from God.." (Romans 5) - but by the mercy of God and the salvation grace found in Christ, I can now draw near.

She does not have the same assurance I do ---- yet.

Seeing Jesus, she cannot accept that Jesus will not help her; and her insistence moved Jesus to declare her faith to be genuine and great! 

We honour God when we trust Him - above everything else.

Jesus was moved by her trust.
He helped her cut through her emotions to this sacred place of implicit and expressed dependence.

Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once. ~ v28

Let your emotions signal to you that it is time to take it all to Jesus.
Spill it all out, inchoate, bits, messes.

Take a good look at what He is able to do.

Cry out desperately for what you truly need.

Listen for what he may say.

Let your emotions serve you by leading you to the depths of what counts.

related posts:
a little more Will-ing
how to Will over your emotions

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