I have to say, when I first saw that this book was written by a man, I was a little skeptical. Perhaps because I, being a pretty emotional woman, have been told by most men in my life, that emotions are not as necessary as I believe them to be, I did not want to be told the same thing again over 200 pages. I thought too, it might not demonize passionate or intense emotions, but it might consists of superficial trivialities that could be found in the “for dummies” or self-help section. I am so glad I was wrong!
“Joy and Tears: The Emotional Life of the Christian,” by Dr. Gerald Peterman, professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute, succeeds in carefully examining emotions from a Biblical standpoint, something I have not seen many authors do. Peterman explains emotions, which are often described as obstacles in the way of knowing God, as actual gifts from God! The emotional lives of Christians are just as important as our cognitive or even actual lives.
In this well-written book, Dr. Peterman works to dismantle the popular Christian myth that feeling has no part in our pursuit of Christ. He does so by explaining that emotions are found in scriptures themselves. How can Jesus weep with sorrow in the Garden, shout with anger in the temple, and rebuke his own apostles in frustration if He is without sin? The answer, to my utter joy, is simple: emotions themselves are not sin! But not to worry, Peterman is is quick to explain that while the emotion of anger may not be sinful, humans are highly capable of reacting to their feelings in a sinful way. He urges the reader to learn more about their emotions instead of pushing them aside, and to become aware of our internal convictions, because, in fact, this is what Jesus did himself. He even goes so far as to say that doing so will help us understand scripture. By becoming more emotionally engaged with the characters of the bible, we will be able to appreciate the Word of God on more than just a cognitive level. And, let’s face it, we can’t just rely on our own understanding to engage us with God.
With arguments and explorations of real life examples, Peterman comes to the conclusion that emotions are the natural responses to our convictions, and also can aid us in becoming more Christ-like. He explains how we can grow to view our emotions as logical, yet at times unconscious, reactions stemming from our internalized beliefs.
With practical advice about how to see our emotions in this way, “Joy and Tears” is geared towards helping Christians take productive, reachable steps towards becoming emotionally healthy. Any Christian, whether feeling void of emotion, or consumed with emotion, will be greatly impacted after this excellent read.