by Pastor Gordon Cashwell
We live in an age driven by feelings. Advertisers prey on our feelings to sell products, marriages are sustained or broken up by feelings, doctors treat feelings with drugs in order to help people lead productive lives, and many people expect certain feelings to manifest in their lives during church services or they are disappointed.
In our spiritual lives, however, how important are feelings?
Although feelings are a very wonderful and powerful aspect of living, feelings are one of the most unstable portions of our lives. In any given day, most of us experience myriads of feelings. Guilt, regret, joy, hope, anger, envy, fear, disappointment, courage, happiness and anxiety all roll around in our hearts and minds throughout the day, tempting us to join them on a roller coaster ride.
I remember early on in my faith journey as I built a relationship with God I experienced new feelings of hope, assurance, courage and joy that I never felt before, and I equated them with my newfound relationship with God. However, as time went on, feelings of guilt, anxiety, anger and fear crept in and I began to question my standing and closeness with God. It was not until a friend coached me about this issue of feelings that I began to regain my bearings.
My friend explained that feelings were like a part of a train made up of three main cars: Fact, Faith and Feelings. He explained that the Fact, which stands for the Word of God, is the engine. Faith is the coal car, and Feelings are the cars being pulled along. In order for me to build my spiritual life, I needed to put my faith and trust in the facts found in the Bible and that my feelings would trail along.
So, when I felt that God was far away, I had to believe that He would never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). When I did not know what to do, instead of relying on my feelings I needed to make decisions based on the Word of God (Proverbs 3: 5- 6). When I felt fear, I had to trust that His presence and angels were with me (Psalm 34:7), and when I experienced regret, my faith had to turn to the assurance of God’s forgiveness (I John 1:8-9)
What did I gain from this? Certain lessons such as:
Although I should not ignore my feelings because they can be indicators and symptoms of what is happening in my heart and life, I cannot trust my feelings to be indicators of what is really going on in my life, for my heart is deceptive. (Jeremiah 17:9).
Instead of being overly concerned with analyzing, treating and changing my feelings, I should be concerned with believing the Word of God and the feelings will come and go.
And…My decisions should not be made by how I feel, but by faith in the truth.
I thank God for my feelings, because they are a part of what make me human, and reflect the image of God in me. I also thank God for the assurance of His Word and faith that can carry me even when my feelings are on the roller coaster ride. Through faith in Him, I have much more stability in my life, and His peace descends upon me as I trust His Word. I pray for this blessed assurance in your life as you journey into a new year in 2016!