How do I feel about that?
How do I feel about that?
How many times have you asked yourself that question today? This issue arose with me a few months ago when I had reason to be very in touch with how I was feeling. As I explored some dark emotions and their causes I began to ask this question of God too.
How do I feel about God?
To be very honest, I didn’t really feel anything. It was like my faith had gone numb. Since I couldn’t feel God I began to lean towards disinterest. I’d stand in church and feel an inability to engage. I’d leave fed up, frustrated and convinced there was some reason God appeared to be so distant. I was blindly grappling around in a desperate bid to recover the original fervour of feeling I once had. I think it is fair to say I hit what CS Lewis describes as a ‘trough’. In such a confusing place I was prompted to remember this quote from Ravi Zacharias: ‘Feelings are vital but they are not foundational’.
As part of God’s intricate creation we have been given the unique capacity to feel. This is a privilege that we should never wish to trade away, and yet ‘feelings’ so often wreck havoc in our faith. We open our bibles desperate to suddenly feel something, to be set alight by the Word. But as we read redemption, saviour, justified, grace we feel nothing, the gospel seems bland.
If this is you (it was and is certainly me) I’d suggest you’ve suffered a spot of Jesus amnesia.
We have forgotten the way in which that feeling was instilled in us to start with. Our foundations are constantly shifting. We are in the wrong order.
Feelings and emotions are a blessing and a gift, they make us who we are and the world would not be the same without them. But in our relationship with God we often exalt them above their proper place. If we want hearts that are moved, emotions that are engaged and a more consistent experience of that amazement and humility upon hearing the gospel, those feelings have to be in the right place.
There is an order that God has ordained. What we have in the Bible is Truth; it is not an emotional stimulus… and it is as we apprehend and submit ourselves to the truth that the feelings follow.
Martyn Lloyd- Jones
Truth first, feelings second.
Human feelings arguably lack a warning label; they are fickle and flighty (as girls with hormones, you’ve got to agree with me here!) Due to their nature, often they are not faithful to the reality of our relationship with God. The Bible urges us to consider how much power we give to our feelings:
Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. (Proverbs 28:24)
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Luckily, our God is gracious, true and unchanging. His love for us is consistent and His promises are always fulfilled. Instead of trusting in ourselves with our sinful hearts and feelings we are called to walk in God's wisdom. When we focus on firstly investing in studying the Word, listening to the Spirit and getting to know God better, the feelings will follow. These feelings can be trusted because they are anchored in truth.
When we feel a bit washed out, like our faith is tedious and that God is far away, let the certainty of His character transform your feelings. There is so much incredible truth to absorb and so many equally incredible emotional responses to that. You will never run out of things to be astounded at.
When I am tempted to exalt my feelings I have challenged myself to stop and talk to myself about what I know to be true. And to be honest with you, I need to invest more in knowing that truth too. But if one thing is for sure - it is that our personal relationship with God does not rely on our feelings, but on His character. That is something to rejoice in.
Katrina is a first year Sports student at studying at Durham University. Although often missing her wonderful Cambridge home, Katrina has found Durham to be a hard place not to fall in love with. She is settling into university life by attempting to try all the coffee shops (despite not drinking coffee)!
Katrina is passionate about watching girls grow with the assurance and knowledge that they are valuable and crazily loved daughters of God.