Emotional Apologetics

March 7, 2023
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Active trusting in the LORD should organically produce emotional health and vitality. And trusting in the LORD should produce an emotional reality not available to those who do not trust.  

Apologetics is an area of the faith concerned with defending Christianity. Traditionally, apologists develop sound rational arguments for the believability of the Bible and biblical truth. Biblical apologetics can be powerful tools to reach new people and to secure in the truth those already saved.  

HOWEVER, I would love to see the development of an emotional, Christian apologetic. By emotional apologetics I mean that I would love to see experts raised who defend the faith on the basis that those in Christ experience a richer, healthier emotional reality than those who do not. 

The emotional benefit of trusting in the LORD is seen all over Scripture. One glaring example is found in Jeremiah. Jeremiah contrasts the emotional reality of one who trusts in himself with one who trusts in the LORD.  

 Thus says the Lord, 
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind 
And makes flesh his strength, 
And whose heart turns away from the Lord. 
“For he will be like a bush in the desert 
And will not see when prosperity comes, 
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, 
A land of salt without inhabitant. 
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord 
And whose trust is the Lord. 
“For he will be like a tree planted by the water, 
That extends its roots by a stream 
And will not fear when the heat comes; 
But its leaves will be green, 
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought 
Nor cease to yield fruit. 

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Consider the emotional condition of the one who trusts in his or her own strength. This is a person who looks to themselves, and their abilities, to navigate life. All the responsibility of succeeding is on them. Consequently, all the pressure is on them as well.  

Jeremiah describes this person as lifeless, ignorant, lonely, and missing potential. For example, a dry bush in the wilderness is fear and anxiety filled. Living on desert crumbs the bush has no security, no assurance of provision. There is no joy, no rest, and no fruit. A dry bush in the wilderness is an empty emotional reality.  

Conversely, the one who trusts in the LORD is alive, rich, and overflowing. The bush in the wilderness is contrasted with the tree planted by streams of water. Deep roots give the tree, the one trusting in the LORD, emotional stability. Even though the one trusting in the LORD still endures great difficulty, their roots hold them firm providing an assurance of provision and life.  

Jeremiah highlights the blessing effect on fear and anxiety that comes from trusting in the LORD. Where one used to fear in the heat, now one has confidence. Where one had anxiety in prolonged seasons of drought, now one can still produce LIFE.  

How is this possible? How can one experience emotional transformation like Jeremiah describes? 

By learning to trust in the LORD in every area of life.  

Jeremiah is very deliberate in his use of LORD when referring to God. He does not say one is to trust in God, he says LORD (In your Bible, LORD should be all caps.). LORD refers to the personal name in Hebrew YHWH, often pronounced yah-weh. YHWH literally means, “I am that I am.”  

LORD is the name God gave to Moses in Exodus 3 when He called Moses to lead Israel out of Egyptian slavery. To do so, Moses would speak to all of Israel and the Pharoah, the king of Egypt. Moses was scared. He needed assurance that he was hearing from God and that God would be faithful to him to fulfill His promise to deliver Israel.  

God told Moses that he can find all the assurance he needs to trust His faithfulness by calling Him YHWH. When God invokes “YHWH” he is saying to Moses I will be faithful to you because faithfulness is in the nature of who I am. “I am that I am” faithful to My promises. God is not like one who does not fulfill his or her word. God does not fail. He does not lose. He always delivers. And He always wins. Therefore, Moses, have assurance and confidence to trust God’s leading because He is YHWH. 

God gives Moses the gift of calling Him YHWH. What do you think about that gift? How would you react if you were Moses? 

Jeremiah capitalizes on YHWH four hundred years later. As God was YHWH to Moses, so too He wants to be YHWH to 7th century BC Israel. The one who trusts in YHWH, the One who is faithful, will experience the emotional blessing of His provision. Because He is faithful, the one who trusts can rest – the pressure of provision belongs to the LORD.  

Isn’t that beautiful?  

Now, watch. Because if Old Testament YHWH is amazing, the New Testament development is richer! Jesus makes known to us we that the same God who is Old Testament YHWH wants to be our Father. Whereas YHWH speaks directly to the aspect of our Father’s character that is undefeatable faithfulness, Father encompasses the love nature of the relationship He wants to have with you and me! 

YHWH wants to be your Father.  

Jesus teaches His disciples, and us, to pray to the Father. In His Lord’s Prayer we ask our Father for His will in our lives. Then, as we walk out His will, we are taught to ask for His provision. 

As YHWH had a will for Moses, He also had provision. 

As YHWH had a will for Jeremiah’s Israel, He also had provision. 

As our Father has a will for our lives, He also has provision. 

Emotional transformation is abundantly available for the one who trusts in the Father, YHWH. Every one of us can be changed from a bush in the wilderness to a tree planted by streams of water! 

Developing a defense of the faith based on emotional healing would be a powerful retort to anyone doubting the power of LIFE in Christ!       

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