I remember asking Sherrel just before our first granddaughter was born, “How will our life be different after we become grandparents?” There's the babysitting… the eventual school activities…. Going along with every imagined reality I had about being a grandparent, were the feelings—the emotions telling me I had something wonderful ahead. (Our granddaughter is now two and one‐half months old and spending her first overnight tonight with Grandpa and Grandma. And I can say, “It feels really good.”)
However, not everything that happens in life is anticipated with such wonderful feelings: “What if it's cancer?” “What if I don't get the promotion?” “What if I get laid‐off?” “What if he leaves me?” “What if…?”
For all of us, what we are feeling at this very moment in time will usually affect, consciously or unconsciously, our next moment. If we are feeling positive, our emotions tend to drive us forward. If we are feeling down, our emotions tend to drive us into retreat. How we feel is often the biggest consideration in how we live.
Put me back in the 19th century with a horse and a colorful wagon. Give me an elixir to peddle that will create positive emotions for every dreaded thing a human has to face. A spoonful before hunting down the outlaw… a spoonful before standing trial… a spoonful before asking permission to court the wealthy cattleman's daughter…. If my elixir could deliver on such a claim, I would become a very wealthy man.
Of course, we do have modern‐day elixirs to help us manage our emotions. We drink, we do drugs, we have illicit sex, we shop, we eat, we gossip, we slander, we party, we even get caught up in religious ceremony. We consume whatever makes us feel good to help us cope with what doesn't. But the resulting hangover creates confusion, and makes us vulnerable.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NKJV)
To be sober is to be calm and collected in spirit, to be temperate, dispassionate, and circumspect. To be vigilant is to be awake and watchful, attentive and cautious. You cannot have these qualities while addicted to emotion. Simply stated: “If you are living by your emotions, your adversary the devil will devour you.”
Study the love of God as described in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. There is no confusion in God's love. God's love does not leave you vulnerable like your emotions do.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. (Romans 8:28)
These are words of reassurance for me and other Christians all over the world. I've even heard unbelievers use these words for encouragement. I have never, ever heard this verse used to demonstrate the wrath of God. God's love comes through loud and clear.
But we've spun a fantasy around this verse. Of course, we don't have any problem believing that good things happening to us will work out for our good. Why would we dread something good? It always feels good when something good happens.
But bad things have happened to us and we remember how they felt. The “all things” has to include the bad with the good. In fact, we're not even thinking about the good things when we read this passage. We only read this passage to help us cope with the bad things, believing that the bad things must really be in some way the good things, hoping the bad things will somehow feel good… oh, my gosh… stop!
We have so twisted this particular passage of Scripture because we are ruled by our emotions rather than by His love. This is not about my feelings; it is about His love bringing about His purpose in my life. What do my feelings have to do with anything? I need to focus on letting Him love me, so I can love Him and consequently love other people… forget the emotion. There are more important things in life than how I feel.
And I'm not trying to turn you into a stuffed white shirt with no color in your life. If you will trust God to love you, your emotional life will be more intensely wonderful than you can possibly imagine.
Put a bunch of neighborhood kids together on their bikes. Along comes little Johnny, walking his bike, just after his dad has taken off the training wheels. I doubt Johnny hears much encouragement from the other kids; more likely he hears their horror stories about learning to ride. He probably has both negative and positive emotions running through his head, but how he is feeling just isn't that important. Johnny has just one thing on his mind—riding his bike. “If Dad says I can ride, then I can ride. If I skin up my knees, it's no big deal!”
It would be a cruel father indeed who would tell his son he could do something which he couldn't. Your heavenly Father loves you like no human father ever could and He will never give you what is impossible to achieve. But your emotions, if you don't control them, can and will stop you dead in your tracks from even trying.
If you are strongly influenced by your emotions, please consider the following verses. Your emotional nature will tell you these are just little religious sayings—nice‐sounding but unrealistic. But ignore your emotions and consider what He is saying. (I've added a few comments to help you get started.)
- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God [is] with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9 NKJV)” God wants you to “go.” He doesn't want you to sit and consider your emotions. Really… what can be so terrifying if God is with you? So go!
- “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)” Regardless of how much emotional distance you try to put between you and trouble, you will have trouble in this world. But He has overcome the world. And what He has overcome cannot threaten you… not really. Jesus tells you to be of good courage and be of good cheer, because He won. He won, so you don't have to lose.
- “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2–4 NKJV)” When you find yourself in difficult circumstances, whether they are your fault or somebody else's, you are to count it all joy—not because the trial is going to go away if you are cheerful about it, but because those trials perfect you. And becoming more like Jesus is more important than your feelings.
In each of these examples, God is giving us a perspective that is simply contrary to our emotional experience. Are we willing to trust Him over our emotions? Accepting the love of God can come down to something this simple: “Will you trust Me more than you trust your feelings?”
Have a good day,