emoticons

“I feel fine – or at least I don’t feel bad – so God and I must be on good terms.”

“You can’t trust feelings, so you shouldn’t pay any attention to them.”

“Why don’t my emotions always line up with what I know is real?”

 

Any of these thoughts sound familiar?  As we fight for joy in Christ… as we fight to see Him as He is… our feelings get involved.  Do they matter?  Can we trust them?  What should we do with them?

Two extremes about feelings

“I feel fine about God, so he and I must be doing o.k.”
Somehow it has become popular to define reality by what we feel.

“If they love each other, it’s ok.  If the music makes me feel good, who cares what it says?  If it makes me mad, it must be wrong.  If it feels good, do it.”

If our feelings were always accurate, no one who feels safe would be surprised by a thief, a diagnosis, or a betrayal.  No one who feels strong would be out-run, out-jumped, or out-lifted.  No one who feels smart would fail.  No one who feels rich would get that annoying “non-sufficient funds” message at the ATM.

So should we judge our relationship with God by how we feel?

“Don’t feel anything for God?  Don’t worry about it.”
But sometimes we go to the opposite extreme and try to ignore our feelings, stuff them, silence them, kill them, numb them, demonize them, etc.  Perhaps it is a reaction to the previous attitude of deifying our feelings.  Or perhaps it is because we just don’t know what to do with them and they are too painful to have around.

We find that scripture leads us neither to deify or to ignore our feelings, but to take them to God.  The Psalms are great examples of this… good feelings, bad feelings, whatever… take them to Him… process them with Him.  He can handle it.  A great example as we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord this weekend is Psalm 22.  The Psalmist – and Christ as He quotes it on the cross – are painfully honest about how they feel.  But what is meaningful to see about that Psalm is the rhythm of wrestling.  It is common in many parts of scripture: tell God how I feel & then remember His truth, tell God how I feel & then remember His truth, etc. This way we don’t fall off into either extreme of ignoring our feelings or of being enslaved by them.

Next time: “Why don’t my emotions always line up with what I know is real?”

We haven’t yet touched on the thought in this comment that inspired to write in the first place.  But now with some context, we’ll be better prepared to look at it next time.