1 As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long people say to me, “Where is your God?” 4 I remember this as I pour out my heart: how I walked with many, leading the festive procession to the house of God, with joyful and thankful shouts. 5 Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. 6 I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me. 8 The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night— a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I will say to God, my rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why must I go about in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression?” 10 My adversaries taunt me, as if crushing my bones, while all day long they say to me, “Where is your God?” 11 Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Without restraint, David recorded his thoughts and feelings. I’m so thankful for a biblical writer who wrote with raw emotion. The Psalms show me that even a man after God’s heart had ups and downs.
An example of David’s unrestrained emotion is verse 2, where he writes to God, “I thirst for You… I’m in despair… where are You?”
A relationship with God is real, and often reality is filled with a lot of emotions. Journaling your real thoughts and feelings can be freeing. When you write everything out, you’re emptying your mind and heart onto paper. It’s cleansing, and after you’re finished getting all your thoughts onto paper, it can often feel like a relief. Not only does expressing yourself give you freedom, but at times it may also give you clarity. It forces you to examine what’s really going on inside.
I use journaling as a method of prayer. It helps me to say everything aloud to God. Like David, I express the good, the bad, and the ugly to God. Sometimes as I’m writing, I see I’m shallow. Other times, I see I’m hurt. The discipline of journaling my thoughts and feelings shows me clearly what I need to put before God, and areas of my life I can grow in.
Recording your feelings also can help others. When you’re in a rough spot, and you record raw feelings, it provides a reminder to you of where you were at.
Years ago, my wife and I dealt with infertility. Because I journaled my thoughts and feelings during that time, I can now go back and read about the emotions I experienced. So when a friend is dealing with a similar struggle, I can better empathize with them. I can pray and encourage them with more effectiveness.
God is a big God. He can handle your thoughts and feelings. (He knows them anyway.) David was a man after God’s own heart, and he felt free to express his deepest emotions to God without restraint. By getting in the practice of journaling and being real about things you are thinking and feeling, you may find that your walk with God also begins to feel more real to you than before.
If you’re new to this, start small. Have a journal you can keep safe, for your eyes and God’s eyes only.
Begin with one life circumstance. Without reservation, record your thoughts and feelings. Your content can be addressed to God (like David’s psalms), or it can just be an emotional upheaval written out on paper. Most often, expressing yourself in this way will be freeing for you.