We all need Jesus. We always have and always will. Sometimes I think we forget that in our desire for things to be good or normal or best, we’ll always need Jesus. Even now, when we’ve been given more “free time,” maybe you feel as though there are a billion other things to think about or do besides go to Jesus? Maybe you always say you will later? Or you’re feeling angry. Maybe you feel like you’ve prayed enough. Or you feel like your prayers fell on deaf ears. Could it be that you’ve tossed God to the side in exchange for the scrolling of the news feed or social media profiles?
I think there is a false ideology that we can’t be Christians while holding onto negative feelings. That we can’t be Christians if we’re naturally curious and prone to questioning. That to be a Christian means you have to have perfect understanding at all times of all things. And right now, we have been shown we really don’t know or understand what God is doing.
There’s been plenty of discussion on how we assure others of Christ through logical arguments and how important inviting people to church events is for evangelism. And that is good. But what if we shared with others that we feel all the same emotions as everyone else and wonder all of the same things?
What if we used God’s Word to facilitate this? By using the Word, we can point to the truth found only in Jesus. I’d like to recommend using the Psalms for this. Here’s why.
Psalms Provide Comfort
The first Bible verses friends ever sent me were from the Psalms. They came when I was growing weary of the emotions I was feeling, or when I was anxious about what tomorrow or upcoming events would bring. Before I was a Christian, I had no foundation to fall back on when life got messy, and even now that I am one, I find myself needing the comfort of the rock of our salvation.
In the Psalms, we see firm, solid knowledge that God is in control. We are given the comfort of the Father. Psalm 46 is one that I look to for comfort continually. Verses 1–2 in this psalm say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.” Within the imagery of Psalm 46, we see God in the middle of it all. We see that He is who we can cling to; though we have no control, we can trust that God does.
We all have things we fear. Some situations make us sad or angry. In the Psalms, we see that God knows and cares about us. We see that He is the foundation we can rest in. At the end of the day, I know who I belong to and where I’m headed. When people need comfort, you can point them to the Psalms.
Psalms Use All Emotions
Psalm 13 starts off, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1–2) Three psalms earlier, the psalmist writes “Why, O LORD, do You stand far away? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) In these verses, you can see that even God’s Word doesn’t shy away from recognizing that sometimes we feel like He is far away.
But the psalmists do not stop at feelings. They always bring it back to who God actually is. Psalm 13 continues in verses 5 and 6: “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” In doing this, the Psalms again bring comfort while showing that we live in a fallen world. When using the Psalms for outreach, we’re saying, “God knows” and “these emotions can coexist with belief.” It then can be used to point others to the truth outside of how we feel, to the facts that His promises never fail and that all His promises are fulfilled in Christ.
Psalms Encourage Community and Worship
Many psalms sing praises to the Lord. In fact, the last five Psalms (146–150) begin with the words “Praise the Lord.” Throughout the Psalms, we see this call to praise God for what He has done and what He is doing. In Psalm 149, we see the call to sing, dance, and rejoice with words. At the end of Psalm 145, we see that David has the urge to worship. “My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless His holy name forever and ever” (v. 21). Clearly, the Psalms show that we are meant to worship.
Not only do the Psalms show that we are called to worship, but also that we are called to worship with others. Psalm 122:1 states, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD!’” In this verse, we see that someone asked David to worship together. In many psalms, we see that the author does not worship alone but with others. Christian community grieves when you grieve and celebrates when you celebrate. The Psalms can be used as examples to encourage and uplift in outreach. When something goes right, go to praise! When something is hard, bring it to the community of your church and bear the burden with one another.
Psalms Show Jesus
When we look at the Psalms, we can say, “and we know this is true because Jesus conquered” or “Jesus took on my sin, let’s praise.” Psalm 78 opens with “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable” (v. 1–2a). These verses of the psalm are thought to reference Jesus’ ministry, and there are more where that came from. In this book, there are many references to the Messiah and how He will act and teach.
But the Psalms do more than just reference Jesus, His ministry on earth, and His coming return. In the Psalms, when we see people cry out, we know that we have a God who understands this because Jesus cried out some of those same words when He was in distress. In Psalm 22:1 we read, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” These same words are echoed in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 by Jesus on the cross. These specific words, and others that are uttered by Jesus during His time on earth, show us further that Jesus understands—that He became man and took on the punishment for our sin.
Everything in the Bible points to Jesus—after all, it is His Word. But the Psalms are special in the way they remind us to keep our eyes on Jesus. And in doing so, we learn how to handle all of our emotions—by giving them to Christ. In outreach, using the Psalms naturally brings us to talking about Jesus. Themes of forgiveness, mercy, grace, pain, sin, and anger are all throughout the Gospels and the Psalms. They naturally lend themselves to one another. But by starting in the Psalms, you can show Jesus through His Word, allowing for doubt and negative feelings but never leaving someone that way.