unsavory emotions

{excerpts taken from “To Be Told”, by Dan Allender; pg 169-172}

We live between two kinds of prayer, between gratitude that strays to presumption or desperation that strips away self-righteousness. Are we to be grateful? Of course, but seldom do we permit any blessing to remain as an undeserved gift from God…

But there is also desperation… When we’re in that state, we utter our deepest finest prayers. The prayer for mercy asks God to lift our face and remove our stain. Desperation introduces us to our shame, and much of our story involves shame

Entering the narrative before God means, first, that we must enter prayer as a struggle. We do not merely utter a string of sweet words according to a prescribed sequence, such as Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication… But the prayer that pleads for exposure and engagement throws our desperation at God’s feet and wrestles naked with him for the blessing of a new name. This is prayer that heals.

Healing prayer is a wrestling match, true. But that’s not all it is… You can’t enter only so far and then stop, capping the process by imagining Jesus’s loving face bringing comfort and good cheer. That’s not wrestling with God, nor is it healing prayer.

Certainly, Jesus does bring healing, and he does smile on us and bring comfort. So there is a place for imagining Jesus’s face in the scenes of our past suffering. But many choose this path as a type of spiritual lobotomy. Such imaginings can be a shortcut to shelving the story as a finished product, never to be taken down and read again.

Shelving the story replaces a deep sense of anguish and anger with tranquility and peace. That is not Jesus, nor is the removal of anguish and anger a sign of healing. Remove anguish and you remove mercy. Erase anger and you erase a hunger for justice. Jesus doesn’t take away anguish and anger; he transforms heartache to passion and anger to righteous defiance. Instead of shelving these unsavory emotions to get them out of sight, Jesus transforms them…

To lose anguish is to be one step closer to robotic inhumanity, as if such a spiritual lobotomy could make a person happier….

Instead, in healing prayer we enter the scene of our tragedies with profound particularity… Healing conversations with God lead straight into the unstated gaps of the story that we find too painful to name. It goes where none of us would dare go without Jesus…

To cast Jesus into the scene too quickly prevents our heart from entering the real war. It is not that we don’t think Jesus was present. We know He was. It is the fact he was present and did nothing to stop the harm that steeps our rage in self-righteousness. Why does he not answer these questions:

  • Why didn’t you keep my parents from divorcing?
  • Why didn’t you stop the abuse?
  • Why didn’t you prevent the accident?

God will answer no such questions, no matter how often and how passionately we ask. Instead, he invites us to weep with him and receive his mercy. And He roars in anger with us and calls us to take up his sword to wage war against that which broke our heart.

Healing prayer simultaneously soothes us and arouses us to battle. Jesus was both lion and lamb- furious and bold, gentle and meek. Prayer heals when we submit our story to his sorrow, when we join his tears and surrender to his anger and embrace our calling to destroy evil. 


Author: CatherineKnight36

First of all, I love Jesus. I am a wife to an amazing man, and mother of three: my 5 year old son Jeremiah, 1 year old son Judah, and my daughter, Tirzah, now 3 years, is waiting for me in the gardens of Heaven. I am also a Veterinarian. The goal of my blog: Creating community around an honest journey through the joy and grief of life. Blog Topics: Child loss and grief; Attachment Theory in Parenting; Mental Heatlh; Christian Theology and Ministry; Veterinary Medicine; and Community Stories.

One thought on “unsavory emotions”

  1. I think that submitting to God is the key in this passage. Yes, we are to fight evil but evil will be with us until Christ returns. Sometimes, the evil of this world is overwhelming: suffering, cruelty to man and animals, and finally death. But I refer to Romans 8:38, 39. Nothing can separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ! – Not anything on the earth!


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