The Source

Henri Nouwen says about loneliness, " you must try to find the source of this feeling. You are inclined either to run away from your loneliness or to dwell in it. When you run away from it, your loneliness does not really diminish; you simply force it out of your mind temporarily. When you start dwelling in it, your feelings only become stronger, and you slip into depression. The spiritual task is not to escape your loneliness, not to let yourself drown in it, but to find its source."

Nouwen's personal struggle seems to be loneliness and depression but my experience is that his observation is true of ever emotion. Anger, fear, joy, anxiety, and everything else we can feel has a source as well as a ditch on both sides.

The problem with Nouwen's advice is that he stops short. The believer should go to the source of emotion but shouldn't stop there. We have to go to the source of our loneliness, anger, fear, or other emotion, and examine both the source and the emotion in light of the cross.

Anger, for example, is often rooted in our surprise at the sinfulness of others. When we examine it in light of the cross, we're reminded of the seriousness of sin in God's eyes and the satisfactory payment of Christ on that person's behalf, as well as our own sinfulness and need for a Savior. At that point, anger dissipates and worship emerges.

When we take emotion and its source to the cross, we're driven to worship every time.


Unknown said...

Highly recommend the book, "The Gospel According to Job" by Mike Mason. It is in devotional format, and his insights on emotions such as depression, anger, etc. are quite profound.