Ever had a storm of feelings bowl you over? I sure have! How do we deal with our wildly-crashing emotions Biblically?
Last week, we looked at Emotion Facts 1-3. This week, I’ve got three more for you!
4. Emotions are not indicators of spiritual experience.
“Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”
– C.S. Lewis –
Some mornings, the sun is streaming in golden through my window, my bed is so soft, and I stretch awake and pray it with a glad heart: “Good morning, Lord. Help me serve You today.”
And other mornings, my alarm blares and I groan. Half-asleep, all I can think is, “I don’t want to get up. Ugh.”
Sometimes, I’m this way when it comes to my walk with God, too. I’ll be ready to tackle the whole book of Leviticus one day. The next? I’m barely feeling up to the book of Jude.
However, a “mountaintop” experience is not a way you should gauge your spirituality. Even if your emotions don’t stand up and shout during your church’s service, you can still be in a right relationship with God. You can be praising Him even if you aren’t moved to tears with every song. You can be thankful without feeling a huge, overwhelming current of praise.
Sometimes we don’t feel much. That’s okay. Sometimes we just have to say, “Lord, I love you and I thank you for ____ even though I don’t feel like it. Please help me desire what You desire.” Act on what you know to be right. God is able to bring your desires around even when you don’t know how.
5. Emotions can be directed.
Emotions are crazy, knee-jerk things. I can’t concoct them, but I can choose whether to nourish them. I can fuel them, one way or another. When someone offends me, I can decide to dwell on the problem, or I can turn to truth. Reminding myself of how offended I have a right to be–that makes the sinful emotions grow. Reminding myself of how much I’ve been forgiven (and also that I’m not the center of the universe) helps realign my emotions with God’s word.
The emotion isn’t the problem. My response to that emotion is the issue.
Something I find myself doing often is this: When struck by a fit of feelings, I try to stop and pray. Right there, whether I’m unloading the dishwasher and feeling mistreated or I’m struggling to find a kind response to an out-of-sorts family member, I just have one refuge: God. I call it “shooting up a prayer.” It goes something like this:
“God, help me. I’m feeling____, but I want to honor You. Please help me respond like You would want me to.”
Those prayers lead my emotions, submitting them to God and asking Him to help me wrestle down these contrary attitudes.
As I said above, act on what you know is true and right. Surprisingly, I’ve found that my emotions climb aboard after the train starts rolling, not before.
6. Emotions are not the goal.
Chasing emotions for their own sake is a waste of time. Yes, following the way of our Master is the path to abundant life. I’ve often been blown away by God’s goodness, carried up on the heights of joy, or swaddled in the security of His peace. But seeking these blessings for their own sakes is not the answer. We can’t manufacture God’s gifts.
And, in the thick of swelling emotions, I recognize something deeper than my feelings…a settled thing called desire. It is more solid, more satisfying. It is something like believing that there is still a sun on the other side of the storm clouds.
Sometimes I feel out-of-sorts, but my deepest places long to glorify my Savior. Sometimes a fear flickers into my life, but inside my fire still glows bright and strong with faith.
Truth is a foundation that stays solid even when the tsunami hits.
The secret is this: give your emotions to God. Whenever an attitude strikes, lift it up and say, “Here, Lord, please take this.” When you’re feeling awful and you don’t know how to hold yourself together, pray “Help, Lord.”
Enjoy the emotional highs, but don’t trust them. When the lows hit, don’t believe their whispers.
Look to the hills, where your help comes from. Look to the Rock that is higher than you–and yes, the Rock that is higher than your Inner Tsunami.
“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’
And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him….”
– Matthew 14:27-31, NKJV –