My heart was fluttering and my hands were shaky. My loud and steady voice had become unsure and not-so-steady as I began to drop my head. I decided that I didn’t want to look up anymore. Staring at my shoes was the only option.
Here I was having a conversation with someone and I completely lost it. Not in the crying sense, but in the oh-my-goodness-I-am-so-unbeliveably-jealous-right-now-I-can’t-even-look-at-you sense.
Not the jealous type?
I wouldn’t classify myself as someone who experiences this all the time. But I am not immune to it. For one of the first times in my life I had experienced debilitating jealousy.
Bodily, it leaves you feeling like you cannot escape. It feels like every fibre of self-control flees from you in one swoop of unleashed emotion.
So, like me, you are left standing there with a fluttering heart and if-someone-talks-to-me-right-now-I-will-probably-hit-them rage: (“Envy makes the bone rot,” Proverbs chapter 14, verse 30, also “For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge,” Proverbs chapter 6, verse 34).
Human jealously knows no moderation; it is domineering, exacting and exhausting.
God’s jealousy and human insecurity Whenever we feel jealous, it often gets dismissed as insecurity. It is then that we can look to God’s jealousy throughout scripture and in response say, “If God can be jealous, so can I”.
Both responses, dismissal and approval are, in fact, mistaken. Insecurity is just the difference between human jealousy and divine jealously.
God’s jealously is always a product of his perfect, self-sufficient love, which shows how deeply jealous he is for the people he freely covenanted.
God reveals through jealousy
Through jealousy, God shows us two things. First, he shows us himself. He is a jealous God (he even says, “My name is Jealous,” Exodus chapter 34, verse 14).
It is the very character of our covenanting God to carry the pain and hurt that he experiences because of his bride’s unfaithfulness (Hosea chapter 4, verses 13 to 14).
Second, he shows us ourselves. Through jealousy, the deepest desires of our heart are prompted and amplified (Genesis chapter 22, verse 12; Psalm chapter 66, verses 18 to 20).
The fiery rage of jealousy burns away all of life’s distractions to show us the things our hearts treasure. It is in this process that we often clarify and bring to the surface all that we would have otherwise kept ‘hidden’ from God and even ourselves.
God comes near to the jealous
I have found there be two aspects of jealousy: suspicion and reality. And God meets us in both of these.
When our jealousy takes on the form of suspicion – it is easy to lose emotional and mental control – to engage in morbid curiosity and fantasy.
It is here that God reminds us of what is real. When you look to David, he doesn’t just say, “I will delight in God amidst my vexation”. No. He delves into the truths he knows. What is real.
He speaks to his soul, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” (Psalm chapter 42, verse 5) and then grounds himself in the simple reality of dirt and mountains: “therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon and from Mount Mizar” (Psalm chapter 42, verse 6).
David overwhelms his suspicion with the presence of God – in reality. If you feel as though your jealousy is an unfounded reaction or unwarranted fear, use your everyday, or concrete things around you to get outside the jealously and look to the God of reality.
Furthermore, God meets us in justified jealousy – when what we have imagined is proven to be true. When we are betrayed. In these situations, if we say to someone who has been betrayed, “You’re not alone, God is with you,” it sounds trite. Of course it does. Don’t say that.
But just when we need to hear it from someone who is divinely jealous for us: God says it. Because if he didn’t say it, we might wonder if it were actually true.
God gives us a reality that he knows must be mysteriously (and even reluctantly) assumed, so that we may freely cry out to him.
A prayer for the jealous
When I feel as though my suspicion is unwarranted, this is what I do. I repeat 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 5 over and over again. Until my soul knows it to be true. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
I then remind myself that it isn’t sinful to feel jealous. God is not judging me for jealousy. “My name is Jealous,” he says.
In times of betrayal, when your heart is all fluttery and your stomach churns. Here is what I would do. Hebrews chapter 13, verses 5 to 6 gives us a liturgy for the heart-drenched-weary-days:
God: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Man: “The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
What can man do to me?”
Well, man can do a lot to you. But when someone betrays you, leaves you, or provokes jealousy within you, God says that he will forsake you.
In the midst of your jealousy, God breaks through with a heart that is sufficiently jealous
previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/emily-black.html
Emily Black is passionate about writing and seeks to write raw, authentic and timely pieces that disturb and comfort, engage justice and fundamentally empower. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne and actively desires to pursue a life of untainted freedom through Jesus Christ.Emily Black’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/emily-black.html