Addicted to Emotions
“You guys have wrecked worship for me in other settings.” The room was electric, settling down after another emotional worship experience. The crowd had been singing without reservation, lifting their hands in praise, and the room held a sense of awe. It was after this emotionally charged worship experience that these words were spoken. The owner of those words meant it as a compliment to the exciting and impassioned worship that regularly occurs with the young adults group I lead. But as I’ve considered this statement there has been a stirring in my soul that, “You guys have wrecked worship for me in other settings,” is more of a sad statement then a celebratory statement.
As I’ve reflect on that small statement over the last few weeks, and have participated in other opportunities to worship through music, I have begun to regret that the words that were spoken were mine. See, I am bummed that I’ve actually allowed the emotion of the worship in one setting to “wreck” the worship in other settings. I have a problem that I think many people share... I love to feel God. While that is not intrinsically a bad thing, it becomes dangerous when my love to feel God becomes more important than my love of God. I get a sense that if we are honest with ourselves, our love to feel God often becomes more of our focus than God himself. And this is what I was saying (whether I realized it or not), when I said, “You guys have wrecked worship for me in other settings.” I was really making a statement that, “Because I feel God more with this worship experience than in other places, I can’t really worship God in the less impassioned times of worship.” (Side note: I know it’s a poor theology of worship to narrow worship down to the music time, but you understand what I am saying.) Now, I’m not saying that a longing and enjoyment of feeling God is a bad thing, or is something that we shouldn’t want, but when that want of feeling or need of feeling becomes supreme to loving God we move into a dangerous place. During my life I have heard my fair share of “I just didn’t feel God anymore, so I don’t believe.” Perhaps this addiction to emotion is something we should be cautious to inhale, and perhaps there is another way.
Psalm 13 gives us a better way. A way that is still true to our desire to feel God without our emotions being the end goal. Here David is honestly frustrated with God due to a lack of sensing Him. Most of the chapter is an expression of a deep desire to hear God and to feel His presence. David shares our “wanting to feel God.” But there is more. In the last two verses David says:
“But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.”
The laments of David’s emotions become a strong proclamation and celebration of God’s goodness, rooted in GOD’s unfailing love. David is not feeling that love. There is not a great sense of emotion towards God’s goodness. In fact, if you just read the first four verses, you might even question if David thinks God is good, but we know that’s exactly what David thinks because he REJOICES. Despite his feeling. Despite his circumstance. Despite his emotions. Actually, in contrast to his emotions he reflects on what God has done in the past, and it is in this place that he gives God what He deserves- Praise.
In reflecting on my words, I regret that I didn’t have the wisdom to realize what I was really, truly saying. I pray that my worship is not wrecked by any “emotional experience,” but is instead sunk deeply into the truth of who God is. So that when the feelings aren’t there, the praise will still resound, not because I feel Him, but because of His unfailing love, because He has rescued me, because He has been good to me, and because not matter what emotion I am feeling... He deserves it.