Feelings and Faith
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38, ESV)
…that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. (Romans 9:2, ESV)
Life is hard and messy and more often than not it is easier to disconnect from what our hearts feel. I’m thankful that Jesus offers us a different option.In his article, “The Emotions of Jesus: And why we need to experience them,” G. Walter Hansen writes, “The gospel writers paint their portraits of Jesus using a kaleidoscope of brilliant ‘emotional’ colors. Jesus felt compassion; he was angry, indignant, and consumed with zeal; he was troubled, greatly distressed, very sorrowful, depressed, deeply moved, and grieved; he sighed; he weptand sobbed; he groaned; he was in agony; he was surprised and amazed; he rejoiced very greatly and was full of joy; he greatly desired, and he loved.”
As a young woman who entered the professional golf world with a wounded heart and also trained to neutralize her emotions, I love this. All of it. I have worked hard in recent years to (re)discover these kaleidoscope of emotions that Jesus experienced within myself and give my heart permission to feel again.
The Apostle Paul tells us, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). If this is true, then all of the same emotions that Jesus felt are for us too. Paul was a man who evidenced this after his transformation. Like Jesus, Paul also felt deep sorrow and anguish for his fellow Jews.
But here’s the struggle…we have also been taught to not live by our feelings. Joyce Meyer says, “We have to learn how to live beyond our feelings and do what’s right even when we feel wrong.”
Which is it then? I have come to believe it’s a balance of both. Our salvation—the forgiveness of our sins and eternal future—comes to us through faith not by our feelings. Emotional highs and lows are not a good temperature gauge for evaluating our intimacy with God. Remaining connected with God requires being faithful to the basic fundamentals of reading our Bible, praying, and opening space in our day to be still and listen for his voice. God’s love for us is not dependent on what we feel.
While we need to live beyond our feelings in our relationship with God and often choose what feels counterintuitive, God also created a dynamic spectrum of emotions for our hearts to feel and experience. Feeling our emotions allows us to have compassion, empathy, righteous anger, passion, sorrow, grief, joy, sadness, and love—both for ourselves and for others. This is what makes us truly alive. The ability to feel is much different than directing our lives by our feelings and a gift we must choose to cultivate.
Our emotional health corresponds to our ability to identify, consider, and control one’s emotions. Likewise, it’s also important to begin to attune to another person’s emotions as well. Sometimes this requires getting help from a professional, a pastor, or a trusted friend. Life is hard and messy and more often than not it is easier to disconnect from what our hearts feel. I’m thankful that Jesus offers us a different option.
Today, I hope you will be encouraged to know by faith that God loves you and give your heart permission to dance with your emotions.
September 15, 2016
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