You’ve just had an awful setback. You’ve lost a job. You’ve ended a relationship. You’ve failed in some way.
What do you next?
Do you just grin and bear it? Do you tell God what you think he wants to hear?
No. The first thing you do is you tell God how you feel. You unload your pain. When you’re honest with God about your emotions, it’s actually an act of worship.
Job gives us a great example of this. Job loses everything—his family, his livestock, his home, and his wealth.
But the Bible doesn’t sugarcoat his response. “Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship” (Job 1:20 NLT).
Job grieved in the way Middle Easterners in his day would have done it, by tearing his robe and shaving his head. But then he worshiped God.
Anytime you experience loss in your life, you’ll face four emotions:
- Anger: Why did this happen to me?
- Grief: What have I lost?
- Shock: What’s going on here?
- Fear: What’s going to happen next?
When you experience a setback, you need to express every one of those emotions. God can handle them because he is the one who gave them to you.
The only reason you have any emotions is because you are made in the image of God. It’s what makes humans unique among God’s creation. God is an emotional God; he has emotions. He can handle your anger, your grief, your shock, and your fear.
Job was brutally honest with God, and you can be, too. Job said, “I cannot keep from speaking.
I must express my anguish. My bitter soul must complain” (Job 7:11 NLT).
The right response to a setback isn’t to fake a good response. God never wants you to fake an emotion.
In one of the most difficult setbacks in the entire Bible, after Jerusalem had been looted and destroyed and the Israelites had been killed, enslaved, and exiled, the prophet Jeremiah writes this: “Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord” (Lamentations 2:19 NLT).
With God, honesty is always the best policy.