Devotional · Stay Sane

Emotions: God Can Handle Our Raw and Honest Feelings

The emotions that arise from hurt and pain can be overwhelming. Instead of shutting down, we can be honest with God about our feelings. This post looks at the life of Hannah to learn what to do with our feelings.



If we are honest with ourselves, I think most of us would admit we struggle with emotions. They can be so big and rise so fast. Sometimes we anticipate them while other times they overwhelm us without warning. It’s easy to settle into the extremes of emotions too. It’s often more comfortable to either camp out in believing all emotions are sinful and must be avoided or emotions are all right and must be followed without fail.

For many years, I stayed firmly in the “all emotions are sinful and must not be felt” category. I am really good at numbing feelings or ignoring them. Yet as much as I work to push them aside, they are always there. I succeed in not feeling them for a time, but eventually they cannot be ignored any longer. Plus, as I have studied the Bible more and more, I have seen emotions in the Scriptures in ways that are not sinful. That challenges everything I believe about them and led me to study deeper.

As I dug into God’s word looking for His truth about emotions which He created, God took me deeper into the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel. We may not immediately think of her story when thinking about emotions, but Hannah has much to teach us about feelings and the God who hears.

Hurt and Pain…

Hannah’s story is one of heartache and pain. Her husband married two women, Hannah and Peninnah. Even worse, Peninnah had children while Hannah remained barren. Hannah longed for a child, but she could not conceive. The ache was deep. However, Peninnah taunted and provoked her, deepening her pain. Hannah’s barrenness was thrown in her face time and time again as each month passed as the one before. Grief upon grief, sorrow upon sorrow.

In looking closer at her story, the words used to describe her pain stood out to me. Her various places in her story and in various versions, descriptions of her pain include bitterness of soul, anguish, great anxiety. She is described as deeply hurt and deeply distressed. These are strong words for intense pain. Even if you cannot relate to the causes of Hannah’s pain, maybe you can relate to some of these feelings. I know I can.

So what does Hannah do with this deep, aching grief she carries year after year?

She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.

1 Samuel 1:10, ESV

Eli, the priest, saw her praying, moving her mouth but praying quietly in her heart. He accused her of drunkenness.

But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”

1 Samuel 1:15-16, ESV

Earlier in the chapter, it says Hannah wept year after year. Days, months, years would come and go, yet her circumstances remained unchanged, her pain persisted, and tears fell hotly down her face. However, she took those tears, that pain, unashamedly to God.

The emotions that arise from hurt and pain can be overwhelming. Instead of shutting down, we can be honest with God about our feelings. This post looks at the life of Hannah to learn what to do with our feelings.

Honesty…

She poured out her soul. She wept bitterly. These were not quiet tears. She did not pray a prayer merely throwing out a request as if she was okay and it wasn’t important to her. This longing for a child, the taunts from words that cut her to her core, it mattered to her, and she let God know that. It was not drunkenness pouring out of her but pain and grief flowing from a deep bucket inside of her. She came to God anxious and vexed, distressed and broken. She laid all her emotions, no matter how hard or painful or ugly, at the feet of her Father.

Yet He listened. He didn’t turn her away and tell her to repent of being grieved and distressed. No, He heard the cries of His daughter. He welcomed her prayers and her feelings, and He listens and comforts her.

Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

1 Samuel 1:18b, ESV

After pouring out her pain and weeping bitterly of anguish and anxiety to her Father, she went on her way, ate, and her face wasn’t sad any longer. Her circumstances were the same. She was childless, and surely Peninnah continued her taunts. Still, God comforted her as she laid her grief before Him in raw honesty.

You probably know God granted her request. She conceived and bore a son, Samuel. Our prayers may not be answered in such fashion, and sometimes the pain just keeps aching, deeper and deeper. Still, we learn from Hannah who prayed such tears not knowing if God would answer the way her heart desired.

Though she knew she may never be given the child she longed for, she still went to God and with unmasked heart, she prayed and wept and found God in her grief. With the load of grief lightened, she walked away with the sadness gone from her face, resting in the promise that her God hears her.

The emotions that arise from hurt and pain can be overwhelming. Instead of shutting down, we can be honest with God about our feelings. This post looks at the life of Hannah to learn what to do with our feelings.

Our emotions…

We each have our own pains, our own griefs, our own buckets inside of us with anguish, anxiety, and hurt. We can try to numb them, not feel them, push them aside, or we can let them push us about on their every whim, unanchored and unstable. But there is another option. Following Hannah’s example, we can come to our Father with unmasked heart, pouring all the brokenness wrapped up in our grief at His feet.

We can weep bitterly, pray honestly, and rest in the promise that our Father hears. Every emotion, no matter how ugly or painful or difficult, we can take to our Abba and know He will meet us in our grief and carry our burdens with us. We can then stand up, though circumstances remain, with heart lighter and face brighter, for our God welcomes us into His arms, emotions and tears and all, gives us comfort, and hears our hearts.

For the God who welcomed Hannah’s weeping prayers of emotions all those years ago, is the same God who welcomes our weeping prayers of emotions today.


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The emotions that arise from hurt and pain can be overwhelming. Instead of shutting down, we can be honest with God about our feelings. This post looks at the life of Hannah to learn what to do with our feelings.

Jordi Ganduxe

Written by Kelly
Hi. I'm Kelly. I'm a wife and a mom to three, soon to be four, amazing little (and not so little) kiddo's who I also happen to homeschool. I'm a writer and poet, sister and friend. I'm a survivor of childhood trauma, in the middle of a healing journey. Yet more than any of that, I am a daughter of God, who has renamed me "My Delight is in Her" (Isaiah 62:4), and I am learning to live daily in that incredible truth.

16 thoughts on “Emotions: God Can Handle Our Raw and Honest Feelings

  1. Hannah. My heart always aches at her story. I can’t necessarily relate to Hannah’s exact pain, but I have resembled this amount of pain. I think most of us can say this. I have felt the most healing, the most relief, the most comforted when I approached the throne with nothing but my tears and pain. I didn’t have words, I only had sorrow and the broken pieces of life. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I’ve heard this my whole life, but wasn’t able to grasp it until I was grown. He loves, forgives, heals just like He did then, does now, and will forever. <3 Thank you for sharing Kelly! I needed this message.

    1. I don’t relate to the cause of Hannah’s pain either, so I often thought it was a great story but not really applicable to me. I love when God takes a familiar passage and brings new understanding of Himself and who I am in Him through it. This particular truth, this honest in prayer and with feelings before Him, is something I struggle mightily with still. I have an anchor now though and a place in His word to come to when doubts creep in.

  2. Wow! This was powerful and so mirrors points of my prayer journey. I recently heard a sermon about laying your pain down for God. The minister quoted CS Lewis “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

  3. As women we need this reminder! I often have to remind myself (especially that time once a month! lol) that I may not be able to control exactly how I’m feeling, but I CAN control how I respond and act as a result of those emotions. Thanks for sharing this truth!

  4. Wow, just wow. I believe that humans are such complex creatures and our emotions further complicate that complexity. Finding God and diving into His word has helped me tremendously. My heart hurts for those that don’t know Him

    1. Yes, humans are complex and emotions only add to that. So thankful that we have a God who welcomes them. He did create them after all 🙂 I ache for those who don’t know Him as well.

  5. Wow, I really needed this. I am very much an emotional person and always have been and I am thankful the Lord understands when it becomes too overwhelming. When those times come I do what you did above and just take it to the word of God as that reminder of who is in charge and the great promises He has given us. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I know that when I have given all of my pain, tears, fears, and insecurities over to God, Mostly in unintelligible sobs, He has met me with peace and comfort. The situations may not have altered or been resolved, but God! All I really need is Him.

    1. Absolutely! We pour it all out at His feet, and when we get up again, though circumstances remain, we are changed and strengthened by Him to press on.

  7. I’m so glad that God wants me to come to Him when I’m emotional and can bear my soul to Him without fear of Him pushing me away.
    It’s been comforting to me to know Jesus felt emotions!

  8. I am 100 percent with you. I used to think my emotions were sinful too. I tried so hard to change them. Then I realized they were there for a purpose. God is so tender towards me, I can show Him how I feel about anything.

    1. The lies of all emotions being sinful have been so hard for me to face and undo. It was so ingrained in me for so many years. It has been many years of life’s journeys that has brought me to even recognize them as lies. I still struggle with it, but He has given me places like Hannah’s story in His word to go back to when the doubt and lies creep back in. I’m so glad He has brought clarity and freedom to you in that as well. He is a good, good Father.

  9. I have read Hannah’s story many times, but somehow I have always overlooked the fact that she wept “bitterly.” That one little word means so much to me right now. The honesty behind it. I usually embrace my emotions, but bitterness is one I am really struggling with right now. Sometimes, it’s just good to know you aren’t alone.

  10. So many of us are taught about being reverent and respectful to God that we shy away from being honest with Him…when He already knows what’s in our hearts.

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