The Crazy Rollercoaster in Your Heart
by David Dahl
Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me! (Psalm 66:20)
I had a few thoughts about what to title this article. One of the first titles that came to mind was “Ruminating on Despair.” That was pretty dark. But at the same time, its very real . . . but not very upbeat. So I’m going with “The Crazy Rollercoaster in Your Heart.”
The heart of our current American culture beats for independence: I want to get what I want, do as I please, say what I feel, write my own rules, live my own truth, and follow my own heart. What could go wrong with millions of people each wanting to follow their own heart?
Let’s put some hard stats to this.
During the time span of the pandemic, heavy drinking has skyrocketed amongst women – increasing by 41% – and amongst men by 15%. Illegal drug use has multiplied.1 Our local social service agencies complain that the percentage of people coming into their offices “high” on substances has multiplied from what was previously seen as normal. Result: loneliness, fear, anxiety, and destructive habits, not to mention the unrelenting stress caused by hopelessness.
Enough of that.God has opened our eyes to a few things. Number one: Your heart can lie to you. The Prophet Jeremiah pulled no punches as he stated, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Does that mean we suppress the heart? No, that’s usually not wise. So when the stress is on, what can we do?
God has given us a bit of medicine for the heart. It’s a particular section of the Bible located right in the middle of it. Just grasp your Bible and part it right in the middle, and you will open to, more than likely, the Psalms. If you land in Proverbs or Isaiah, work left and gently page back. The Book of Psalms is not far away.
The psalms are the prayer book of the Bible. There are psalms for when you are overjoyed, for when you are drowning in despair, even for when you feel as if God has become your worst enemy.
Nearly a third of the psalms are prayers of lament. These prayers are so raw, open and honest, you may wonder why they are even in the Bible. Answer: They are in the Bible because there is suffering in the world. It touches everyone and can bring anyone to the end of their rope. The Psalms can help unburden your heart and lead you to a fresh beginning.
What do you learn from the Psalms? Your heart feelings are neither a sound to be silenced, nor are they lights to be followed. On the contrary, your heart is a power to be harnessed.
That is to say that it’s good to express your feelings – especially to God who is the best listener.
So when I have something I need to get off my chest, I pick a good Psalm and pray through it with all the emotion I can, because what is going on in my heart matters. God’s truth is the torch that lights my path. My heart is the passion that powers my feet to follow. Truth is the torch. Passion is the power. May we not get them confused.
Still, you may wonder where the emotional rollercoaster is headed. Nearly every Psalm closes with gratitude. It may start with joy, sorrow, mourning, anger, you name it. . . The psalmist wrestles with that emotion and then comes to a new understanding. Wherever the heart was at first is not where the heart remains. The end is nearly always thanksgiving. (I think there is a holiday by that name!).
I leave you with a gentle song of thanksgiving. Psalm 66:20: “Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!”
Let us all Keep and Live the Faith!
Pr. David G. Dahl
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