Skip to main content
Christian Living

What the Complex Emotions of Jack Harbaugh Can Teach Us

Jack Harbaugh has two sons playing against each other tonight: John and Jim. So father will watch his sons battle it out. At the end, one son will be a winner. The other son will have Super Bowl loser on his resume.

But what will be going on in the heart of Jack Harbaugh during the game? Cheering for one son while agonizing for the other? And what about afterward in the locker room when one is jubilant? And the other is deathly quiet?

I think this analogy can begin to help me understand the complex emotions of God. The following paragraph from John Piper helps my small mind grasp the deep things of God and keeps me from overemphasizing one emotion of God without thinking of the other.  I pray this paragraph would help you the same way that it has helped me.

God’s emotional life is infinitely complex beyond our ability to fully comprehend.  For example, who can comprehend that the Lord hears in one moment of time the prayers of 10 million Christians around the world, and sympathizes with each one personally and individually as a caring Father (as Hebrews 4:15 says), even though among those 10 million prayers some are broken-hearted and some are bursting with joy?  How can God weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice when they are both coming to him at the same time–in fact are always coming to him with no break at all?  Or who can comprehend that God is angry at the sin of the world every day (Psalm 7:11), and yet every day, every moment, he is rejoicing with tremendous joy because somewhere in the world a sinner is repenting (Luke 15:7, 10, 23)?  Who can comprehend that God continually burns with hot anger at the rebellion of  the wicked and grieves over the unholy speech of his people (Ephesians 4:29-30), yet takes pleasure in them daily (Psalm 149:4), and ceaselessly makes merry over penitent prodigals who come home?  Who of us could dare say what complex of emotions is not possible for God?  All we have to go on here is what he has chosen to tell us in the Bible.  And what he has told us is that there is a sense in which he does not experience pleasure in the judgment of the wicked, and there is a sense in which he does. (The Pleasures of God, p.66)

Leave a Reply