I thought I wouldn’t like this book. Perhaps it was the title. Being of the ‘get-a-grip’ generation, I have a slight aversion to the touchy-feely, preferring to crack on and not make a fuss.
But this book is not as me-centred as it sounds. It is a series of short studies on the Psalms and it is thoroughly Christ-centred. Starting with Psalm 1 and Psalm 2, Courtney Reissig gives us some solid ground before we get to dealing with emotions. We are reminded of the crucial importance of rooting ourselves in God’s word as opposed to the counsel of the wicked. And we are taken to the bigger picture: ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’ As Reissig says, ‘In many ways, the message of the entire Bible is captured in this one sentence.’ We get the end story first and this is the perspective for the meditations that follow.
There are 24 short chapters, each given to a psalm and titled according to an emotion. Some readers, on reviewing the contents page, will immediately turn to the one with a title that sums up their own feelings on that day. Others will find it more like a medical dictionary in the hands of a hypochondriac: recognising symptoms of every described disease in themselves. Worthless? Tick. Weary? Certainly. Ashamed? Definitely.
I am glad to report that not all the emotions are negative. Some of the best chapters, in this extremely readable and helpful book, are on positives e.g. Content (Ps.131) and Grateful (Ps.103). And even on the more downbeat emotions, the book avoids being mawkish and maudlin by continually pointing the reader to hope in Christ and demonstrating how an honest assessment of our circumstances and our feelings, as we pursue our often fraught path through life, is no barrier to a close and trusting walk with God. Quite the reverse, actually.
Male readers would find plenty of nourishing spiritual food here, but it does feel like a book for women and is frequently addressed to sisters in Christ. It has a lot of womb stories and makes use of many personal anecdotes from Reissig’s own life as the mother of four young boys. She is honest about her own struggles and failures, and her excitement about God’s word and her joy in Christ bubbles off every page. Each chapter is interleaved with a blank page for the reader to write their own experiences/prayers or a record of God’s dealings with them.
The fact is, as Reissig says, ‘When we stand back and look at what God has done in the world, in us, and in the universe, we marvel.’
I thought I wouldn’t like this book. But I did. Very Much.
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